Spokane Journal of Business

$12 million jail addition set in Kootenai County

Budget surplus to be used to fund 114-bed expansion

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Construction has started on a $12 million expansion for the Kootenai County Jail, in Coeur d’Alene.

The expansion will add 114 beds in a 20,000-square-foot expansion to the jail at 5500 N. Government Way, bringing the total to 441 beds, says Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger.

The project also will include construction of an 8,000-square-foot building shell for an additional, future 108-bed expansion, Wolfinger says.

“We’ve been trying to find a way to expand the jail space for 10 years,” he says. “We’re housing a lot of people out of county every day. That’s expensive.”

In recent years, Kootenai County voters rejected three ballot measures that sought to fund the jail expansion through property tax increases.

The current expansion is being funded through a surplus in county revenue, rather than increased taxes.

The project will be completed in a year to 14 months, he says.

Las Vegas-based Sletten Construction Co. is the contractor on the project, and LCA Architects PA, of Boise, designed it. Welch Comer & Associates Inc., of Coeur d’Alene, is providing engineering services.

The last major jail expansion added 200 beds in 2002. Most of those beds were dormitory-style beds for detainees charged with or convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

“In those days, 72 percent were here for misdemeanor charges,” Wolfinger says, adding that today, 75 percent of the detainees are being held on more serious felony charges.

“You can’t always put them in a dormitory-type room,” he says.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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