On Monday, I checked in with the Webster County commissioners to get the answer to a question I had, and it’s one that many readers probably share: What the heck is going on with the Webster County Justice center?

We’ve been told that the late delivery of elevators from the Thyssen-Krupp company is to blame for the holdup. Apparently, the elevators were also not ordered in a timely fashion by Septagon Construction Management, and then Thyssen-Krupp dragged its feet in delivery.

There are two elevators, each of which travels to three floors of the building, and that means six separate areas require finishing once the elevators are in place.

The commissioners, who previously promised us gala celebrations, including tours and even a jailhouse sleepover, are understandably reluctant to offer a completion date — fool me once, shame on you. But now that the elevators have been delivered, it looks like completion is close at hand.

I was very curious about the budget for the building. Surely a delay of several months’ duration made a major hit on the project budget. How could it not?

Remarkably, though, the project is still within budget, the county chiefs tell me. What’s more, the commissioners tell me that our neighbor, Greene County, has requested 50 beds immediately when the facility opens, and at a rate of $45 per bed, per day, Webster County will soon be pulling in revenue at the Justice Center.

Revenue from incarceration is a tricky thing in Missouri. Figures from September showed that the state then owed Webster County about $112,000 in back payment for the lodging of prisoners. And Missouri owes Greene County over $3 million dollars for keeping its prisoners. Every county seems to be owed some money from the state for incarceration reimbursement, so we probably shouldn’t count the dollars from renting out jail space two quickly. But a good bit of money is to be made from housing the prisoners that Greene and other counties don’t have room for, and the really good news is that this revenue was not factored into the conservative jail budget.

The Justice Center has looked complete for a while now. The work that remains to be done is tucked away inside the structure, though there is a substantial amount of it to do. I think we’ve all looked at that handsome new building on the square and wondered what in the heck was taking so long. It's a credit to the Webster County Commissioners that they are committed to doing the job properly, and that they seem to be completing the work within budget.

We can all look forward to the day when we open the doors and start making, rather than spending, money.

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