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County officials re-examine facility needs for public health and law enforcement

Cook County officials and the local budget advisory committee are once again exploring the need to increase workspace at various facilities, including public health and the sheriff’s department.

This process will again include, at least initially, engagement with representatives from Wold Architects and Engineers, a design firm based in the Twin Cities. The company is familiar with Cook County local government, including a vision it shared with local officials in 2019 to expand the local prison facility. This proposed plan, priced at around $ 5 million, sparked a wave of concern in the community and public commentary shared at Commissioners meetings.

County administrator James Joerke told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs in a recent interview (audio below) that he doesn’t think there is a need to revisit the possibility of expanding the facility at this time. local penitentiary. However, Joerke said there was a need for more space for public health department staff to do their jobs, as well as deputies in the sheriff’s department. How these space needs are met is in the early stages of discussion, Joerke said.

Representatives from Wold Architects will meet with county officials in October to begin the next steps in the planning process, according to the county administrator.

An update on the county’s potential to incorporate a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for county employees is also shared in the interview. As he previously told WTIP, it doesn’t appear that a recent federal mandate requires public sector employees, such as those who work in the local Cook County government, to get vaccinated. That being said, some counties in Minnesota require their staff to be vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus. Cook County officials continue to navigate the situation and will share an update at their next meeting on October 12, Joerke said.

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