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New Huber Center in Dane County’s budget

The Dane County sheriff’s office is in line for a new facility and helpful
financial boost.

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced some of the 2007 county budget
recommendations Tuesday, which include an $11 million increase for the sheriff’s

While the money will be divvied up to bring in new detectives, security systems
and vehicles, $4.2 million of the increase will go toward the construction of
a new Huber Center, a jail designed specifically for alcohol and other drug

Falk said that while the state had mandated the construction of a new facility
for the county, she saw it as an opportunity to set an example as opposed to
meeting a requirement.

“We wanted something smarter and better than what we have in place right
now,” she said. “We’re interested in keeping people from re-offending,
and a significant number of people in prison right now are there because they’re
repeat drug or alcohol offenders.”

Falk said that part of the new facility will include 100 specially designated
beds for alcohol abuse treatment. She added that this project will follow an
incentive put in motion three years ago called “Pathfinders” where
the county began targeting and treating alcohol offenders.

“That program has produced some very positive results,” she said.
“We want to help people overcome the addiction.”

Falk also said the jail specifically designed to treat addictions is something
new not only for the county but also for the nation. She said that while there
are a select few other locations throughout the country with a specific goal
in targeting addiction, Dane County had no real examples to draw its own plans

Site sought

While no timeline is yet in place for the new facility, Falk said that both
the county and Sheriff’s Department know what they want to build, so the
next step will be finding a site and drawing up architectural blueprints, before
ultimately starting construction. The Dane County Board of Supervisors has been
working with both Falk and the sheriff’s office on finding a suitable site.

“We’re now looking for the site, and there are a few specific factors
we’re looking for in making the ultimate choice,” Falk said. “We’d
like to have it on a bus line so that inmates can have access for work and/or
medical appointments. It also makes family visiting easier. We’d like to
have it on land already owned by the county to help with the cost, and obviously,
the site has to be sufficiently sized to hold the building.”

Dane County Sheriff Richard Hamblin, who has pushed for upgrades in staff and
remodeling work for current prison facilities in the City County Building in
previous budgets, could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Falk said that
some of the $11 million increase could also be used for remodeling work in the
City County Building.

“It’s a series of steps that was provoked by the new Dane County
Courthouse,” she said. “It began a process of selling part of the
City County Building to the city of Madison, and in doing so, converting some
of the older, worn down areas to new, remodeled spaces. [The new Huber Center] will make it better for accommodating inmates, but it triggers the need for
more work.”

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