Cornerstone dedication ceremony at the newly competed Greene County jail. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

There weren’t any inmates in the new Greene County Jail at the time of a cornerstone dedication ceremony May 13, but the move is coming.

Sheriff Jim Arnott said a big move will happen sometime within the next month, when hundreds of inmates will be transported from downtown Springfield to the new jail at the intersection of West Division Street and Haseltine Road.

“We will be moving them within the next 30 days at an undisclosed time,” Arnott said. 

It’s not just a matter of moving people, but moving procedures when the switch occurs.

“Right now we’re over here training people on the new facility getting ready,” Arnott said. “If you think about it, you have a kitchen — 900 meals three times a day — laundry, all that has to move at one time because I don’t have extra staff to run it over there and run it here, so we’ll make a very quick move and be up and running.”

Deputies bow their heads in prayer at the Greene County Jail dedication Ceremony. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

The sheriff said his office still needs to hire about 65 more people to work in the jail in order to reach full staffing capacity. Hiring of jailers and other workers will continue.

“We’ve got some plans on how we can mitigate those issues until we get fully staffed,” Arnott said.

Having all of the staff and operations “under one roof” was a big point of emphasis at the dedication event, where people packed the new jail’s drive-through sally port to attend a Masonic cornerstone dedication. Arnott said that the sheriff’s office has operated from three or four different buildings for at least 40 years — until now.

“The biggest thing is being all together, and that’s something that we haven’t had before,” Arnott said. 

Voters in Greene County enacted a law enforcement sales tax in 2017 that funds construction of the new jail and sheriff’s office.

More than two years, more than 70 companies

Just outside of the newly built Greene County Jail. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Greene County District 1 Commissioner Rusty MacLachlan is a contractor in a long family line of contractors, and with an educated eye, praised the work as he stood in the new jail sally port.

“The coordination, the efforts, the cleanliness of the job, everything I saw screamed out that this was well-run, well-managed, and it was going to be a great project,” MacLachlan said.

Three buildings add up to 365,000 square feet of space on 85 acres of land, which leaves room for expansion in the future. Greene County District 2 Commissioner John C. Russell said that the new jail is a solution to the overcrowding problem at the downtown jail on Boonville Avenue.

“Going out instead of up saves taxpayers money year after year after year,” Russell said.

Russell said that the project is under budget by about $1 million, and includes a 25,000-square-foot evidence storage and training building.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott at the Greene County Jail Dedication (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

DeWitt and Associates and J.E. Dunn Construction are the managers at risk for the jail project, which means they have a set budget and timeline to follow in order to avoid footing the bill for any overages, with some legally-protected exceptions. The project took more than two years to complete, but met its deadline of May 1, 2022. 

“Usually that does not happen, especially in a government project,” Arnott said.

The sheriff only had compliments for the architect, N-FORM Architecture, the construction managers and the 72 different subcontractors and suppliers. 

“I can’t say anything bad about the complete process,” Arnott said. “As we went through and looked at areas where we needed to cut money, different places, my team, the advanced team looked at ways to figure that out, so we’ll have a long term savings.”

Masonic dedication

Ceremonial cornerstone at the Greene County Jail
Ceremonial granite cornerstone at the Greene County Jail (Photo by Shanon Cay Bowers)

The Grand Masonic Lodge of Missouri dedicated a cornerstone for the new Greene County Jail on May 13. Greenlawn Funeral Home donated the 250-pound stone. South Barnes Masonry donated labor for installation. Representatives of at least 12 different Masonic lodges took part in the dedication.

Freemasons often honor newly constructed government buildings with cornerstones, typically on the structure’s northeast corner. The long-standing history dates back to President George Washington laying the cornerstone of the White House in 1792.

According to Masonic tradition, the cornerstone symbolizes sturdiness, morality and truth. Ancient stone masons were paid in corn, wine and oil for their labor. They are used in dedication ceremonies to represent nourishment, refreshment and joy and to commemorate the time and effort put into a building’s construction.

Dr. Ty G. Treutelaar, Masonic Grand Master, traveled from St. Louis to oversee the ceremony.

“This is an amazing building; I had no idea of the size,” Treutelaar said. “This county has done some magnificent structures that we’ve been honored to be part of.”

Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon explained that some items were placed behind the cornerstone as it was laid into place. They include a Masonic flag that flew over the state capitol building in Jefferson City, a Masonic Bible, a list of the sheriff’s distinguished posse, which helped to drum up voter support for the sales tax in 2017. There is also a record of each Greene County public office holder as of May 13, 2022.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger