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New probation office opensTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Photo by George Lauby
Vicki Fleming at the front window
Photo by George Lauby
Lonnie Folchert at his desk

The staff of the district probation office has moved into new offices, completing the first major move connected with the new county jail that will be built during the next couple years.

The old probation office, in the 100 block of W. Third, will be demolished to make way for the new jail and sheriff’s office. The driver's license exam office will also move; then finally the prisoners, jail and sheriff's staff.

The probation staff now has a more spacious, better-lit, completely remodeled building. The building and the renovation cost about $530,000, County Commissioner Chairman Willis Roethemeyer said Friday.

The commissioners paid $400,000 for the building, which is located less than two blocks from the old probation office. The remodeling cost about $130,000, which was $30,000 more than expected.

New phone and computer lines were connected to the courthouse, Roethemeyer said, adding about $9,000 to the cost. And, some unexpected changes had to be made during the renovations. For instance, when new light fixtures arrived they were larger than expected so the ceiling had to be lowered a couple inches.

Those things added to the anticipated remodeling cost of $118,000, Roethemeyer said.

Officials figured the cost to move the probation office would total $500,000 and added that much to the jail bond that voters approved last November.

An open house will be held in the new probation offices from 3-5 p.m. July 2.

Roethemeyer hopes that the bigger construction bids for the new jail will be lower than expected when they come in.

The base cost of the new jail is budgeted at $13.7 million, and that budget was written before the economy worsened last fall, so the jail could cost less now. The price of some construction materials is lower and competition for the construction contracts is expected to be lively.

So far, companies are expressing good interest in the project, Roethemeyer said. Bids will be opened July 22 and awarded Aug. 1. Construction is expected to begin in early to mid-August and continue for at least 18 months.

New digs

“The new office is very nice,” said Vicki Fleming, the front clerk at the probation office. “We’ll miss the old place, but this is nice.”

The probation staff had been in the old building for more than 20 years.

“There are a lot of good memories over that time,” chief probation officer Lonnie Folchert said. “But this building is a real good one. It has more storage room and room to grow.”

By law, probation records must be retained for five years, Folchert said. And, the new building would have room for a staff meeting for the entire district, which consists of 36 employees from 17 counties in west central Nebraska.

Twelve people work in the North Platte office.

A probation officer from Ogallala will move to North Platte because Ogallala’s caseload is decreasing, Folchert said. Other than that and a new sign, operations will be basically the same.

A new sign outside the building says “District 11 Probation.” The old office was called the District 9 Office, but the change is in name only, Folchert said.

Across the state, probation districts are being numbered for the judicial district they serve, but the geographic boundaries are the same.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 6/29/2009
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