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In this Sept. 4 file photo, John Bishop, right, senior architectural manager for Farnsworth Group, gives McLean County Public Building Commission members a tour of a cell block in the jail expansion under construction at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in downtown Bloomington. A large recreation area that includes natural sunlight is at the end of the block.

BLOOMINGTON — The process of transferring inmates to the newly constructed addition to the McLean County jail will begin in late November, according to a report Tuesday to the county Public Building Commission.

"There's a lot being done every day," Bishop said of the final phase of the project.

Inmates will be moved incrementally over several weeks, said Bishop. 

The state Department of Corrections is scheduled to make its tour of the building Wednesday ahead of its issuance of an occupancy permit for the correctional facility.

County Administrative Services Director Eric Schmitt said a Nov. 20 ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for public officials and individuals who assisted with the project. 

PBC Chairman Tom Novastad said the $39 million project is on track financially and has progressed without any significant issues.

"It's been a great project," said Novastad.

The addition is designed to improve housing and treatment options for mentally ill inmates now housed in the jail's booking area. The special unit features softer colors, special furnishings and areas for counselors assigned to inmates with behavioral issues.

Planning for the new facility began about six years ago after the National Institute of Corrections was asked to review housing conditions for mentally ill inmates. Deficiencies identified in that report have been addressed with the new building, which also includes an area for female inmates now housed in the oldest section of the jail.  

As work winds down on the 80,000-square-foot addition, demolition work has started on portions of the existing 225-bed jail for a new medical unit. Work shifts on the project were moved to a 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. schedule this week to minimize noise disruptions in courtrooms and county offices, said Schmitt.

Two new members are expected to join the commission in December after the anticipated approval of Hannah Eisner by the city of Bloomington and Jim Fruin by the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District. The city, Bloomington District 87 the water reclamation district and the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority joined the McLean County Board in 1967 as partners in the PBC.

The County Board assigns five members to the commission, which oversees major public building projects, and each of the other four entitles provides one member for the commission.

Eisner and Fruin replace Adam Funk and Tom Good, whose terms have expired, respectively.

Eisner is a former McLean County assistant state's attorney and assistant county administrator. Fruin is a former member of the Bloomington City Council.

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

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McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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