RINGGOLD COUNTY JAIL
Although some of the earliest records of the county board of supervisors show authorization of purchase of materials to construct a county jail, actual construction was delayed for one reason and another for more than 20 years. In the meantime, prisoners of both county and town of Mount Ayr were kept in the jury room of the court house on the east side of the square or taken to the union county jail at Creston.
Finally, the board of supervisors appointed Mount Ayr Mayor E. G. MARTIN and Charles ARNDT to draw up plans for a county jail. This they did, specifications calling for a building 18 by 20 feet and 10 feet tall with a flat tin roof, containing four rooms. Located on East Monroe Street, a block east of the square, the jail was built in the fall of 1875, with Charles Arndt as the contractor. Included in the jail, which cost $1,256, were two cells of half-inch boiler iron.
It was not long after completion that the jail had its first occupant, one Ben HUBBARD, although there is no report of what his offense was. The building was used for about 20 years, boarding a wide range of prisoners for both the county and the city. Never what you would call plush, the jail deteriorated until conditions became so intolerable that a special committee appointed by the district court inspected the place and recommended a new building. Consequently, the Ringgold county board of supervisors advertised for bids in mid-April 1895.
Specifications for the new jail called for the construction of a brick and stone two-story building, 37' 11" by 27' 2". The first floor contained an office, juvenile and bath cells and two large steel cages; on the second floor were to be two large rooms, and exercise room and cells for insane and female prisoners (an interesting arrangement). Specifications also called for a heating system to keep the temperature at 76 degrees at all times, a reflection on the apparently chilly conditions of the former jail.
Contract for the building was let to James McCOMBS for $2,693 while the Pauly Jail and Iron Works Co. of St. Louis got the contract for the iron work at $1,420. The building was completed on August 20, 1896, but business was a bit slow. The first prisoner was not housed there until October 8, 1896, when Sherman FOWLER was a county guest following his arrest by Ringgold County Sheriff HOLLAND on orders received from the constable at Blythedale, Missouri. This jail served the county's needs for about 30 years, but when the present county court house was constructed in 1926, jail facilities were included on the third floor. That made the old brick building surplus property. The county board of supervisors decided that it would cost more to raze the old jail and fill in the excavation than it would bring for building lots. Consequently, they turned the title over to Ringgold Post No. 172 of the American Legion on October 18, 1928 for the sale price of $1.00 with the provision that the post improve the building and lots and maintain them as a memorial to servicemen of World War I. The American Legion still maintains the building as its headquarters, making it available as a meeting place for various community groups and organizations.
The old iron work from the previous jail, however, continues to serve the county. In March of 1932, the jail in the attic of the court house was remodeled and reconstructed. Steel work of the old jail was used to line the walls.
The First County Jail
As early as April 7, 1857, there became an agitation among the county officers for the contract to Randolph SRY was let a county jail. Then at times it popped up, for forty-five perch of stone and to Thomas MARSHAL for plank, and to H. CRABLE for lumber at $20 per thousand feet, on September 8, 1857 with which to build a jail. But it was always voted down though the county had plenty of money with which to build it. After voting it down for years, the lumber and stone on hand that had not been used for other purposes were ordered sold in 1862. At first the prisoners were taken to Warren or Decatur counties. Later, the jury room windows were barred and they were guarded there.
June 1876, the board of supervisors appointed the mayor, E. G. MARTIN and Charles ARNDT to draft specifications for a county jail and August 12, 1876, the contract was let to Charles ARNDT for $1,256. It was 18 x 20 feet and 10 feet high. It was boxed up with 2 x 8's laid flat and spiked one on top of the other the entire height and distance around. The roof was made of tine put on by Owen LESAN, Webb GEORGE, and Jim SEEVERS. The jail was divided into four rooms and had two cells made of one-half inch boiler iron. James INGRAM, a brother of Andrew INGRAM, Sr. did the mason work. This jail was used until 1895 when the present worthless jail was built, then it was sold to and occupied as a dwelling by Mrs. Charles WADDELL. It was weather boarded on the outside and painted when first bought, but recently it has been remodeled, painted and a porch added. No prisoner was ever known to break out of this jail though one man, a counterfeiter, took the hinges off the door and walked out.
The Second County Jail
At a meeting of the board of supervisors in April 1895, a proposition of the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company submitted by Thomas C. LEWIS, agent, to make and furnish plans for a new jail according to plan No. 487. Such changes in said plan, and specifications, to be made as will adapt them, to the lot and location to be used. The price for complete plans and specifications to be $100 and in event the contract for the iron and the cell work, if at the time of awarding is let to the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company, the plans and specifications are to be used by the county without compensation.
The building of the jail was awarded to James McCOMBS for $2,693, with extra work done later, costing $73. Iron work was awarded to the Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company for $1,420. Samuel McCOMBS worked on the building as mason and William DEPEW as hod carrier. The jail was finished in the fall of 1895, total cost $4,186. The size of this jail is 37 feet 11 inches by 27 feet 2 inches. The basement is located under the east end. The south part being the furnace room. The first floor contains an office, juvenile, and bath cells and two large steel cages. On the second floor of the jail are two more large rooms, which can be fitted with steel cages, an exercise room and cells for insane and female prisoners. It was usually unoccupied.
The lots on which this jail stood and the building was given to the Legionnaires for a hall when the new court house was built, as a jail was built on the fourth story of the court house.
Historical Ringgold County Jail, Mount Ayr, Iowa
Monday, January 22, 2007
RINGGOLD COUNTY TO VOTE ON SALES TAX FOR NEW JAIL
by Mark SAYLOR, KSIB, Creston, Union County, Iowa
Voters in a small southwest Iowa county go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to impose a one-cent local sales tax to
finance construction of a new jail. Ringgold County Sheriff Mike SOBOTKA says the two men who preceded him as sheriff
started the push for a new jail.
The current jail, which is on the fourth floor of the Ringgold County Courthouse in Mount Ayr, was built in 1927 - but
the iron in it came from the original Ringgold County Jail which was built in 1895. That means the bars on the cells are
over one-hundred years old. The old jail can house six prisoners.
The sheriff backs construction of a new, single-story jail that can house up to 22 prisoners at a time. The sheriff's
office will stay in the Ringgold County Courthouse, as Sheriff SOBOTKA says he and the deputies help provide security in
the courthouse. "The other thing is the local option sales tax would not produce enough revenue to build a law
enforcement center," SOBOTKA says. "It will only produce enough revenue to build this facility that we're proposing."
The new jail is projected to cost two-and-a-half million dollars.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
RINGGOLD COUNTY VOTERS APPROVE NEW JAIL
by Mark SAYLOR, KSIB, Creston, Union County, Iowa
Voters in a southwest Iowa county have overwhelmingly approved a county-wide sales tax that will finance construction of
a new jail. The final tally shows almost 75 percent of the Ringgold County residents who voted to impose the extra penny
of sales tax on purchases made in their county. Ringgold County Sheriff Mike SOBOTKA says the start of construction
depends on how quickly land can be purchased for the new jail.
"If all goes well, probably by mid- to late spring we could be looking at [taking] bids for the project and then in the
early part of the summer begin the construction phase," he says. The single-story jail would house up to 15 prisoners.
The cost of construction, including the purchase of land, is pegged at two-and-a-half million dollars. The current
Ringgold County Jail is on the fourth floor of the county courthouse. It can house six inmates - behind cell bars that
were forged in 1895.
Radio Iowa News
Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 15, 2011
CORNERSTONE CEREMONY SET FOR NEW COUNTY JAIL
The public is invited to attend a cornerstone laying ceremony for the new Ringgold County Law Enforcement Center on
Tuesday, June 21 at 11 a.m. The event will be held at the Ringgold County courthouse, 109 West Madison Street. The
officers of Grand Lodge of Iowa, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons will conduct the colorful ceremony. It is hoped that
Grandmaster Craig DAVIS will be able to preside.
Members of Faith Lodge No. 179 at Mount Ayr under the leadership of
Michael WIMER, master of the lodge, will assist the grand lodge officers in the ceremony. Also helping with be members
of the Kellerton Lodge.
The cornerstone laying ceremony is a colorful event that culminates when a building is
consecrated with corn, wine and oil, all symbolic virtues of morality, justice, truth, brotherly love and
citizenship. Although the cornerstone laying ritual is now strictly symbolic, it is based on proven building
techniques when stone masons used the chief tools of their trade – the square, level and plumb – to ensure that the first
block of their building was correctly laid. The cornerstone ceremony is held only for public buildings.
A ceremony was
held when the First Christian Church of Mount Ayr was built, the last time a ceremony was held in Ringgold county.
Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Masons 'lay' cornerstone for law enforcement center
Grand Master Craig L. DAVIS and Grand Marshal Guy H. POSEY lead the procession through the sabers in
the grand entrance to the shelter house on the Ringgold county courthouse lawn where the cornerstone laying ceremony for
the new law enforcement center was held.
DAVIS leads the ceremony where Kyle A. GORDON, Wendell D. LEONARD and Jack COOK ceremonially use the
square, level and plumb to check the cornerstone.
In a ceremony rich in pomp, the cornerstone for the new Ringgold County Law Enforcement Center was laid Tuesday morning.
The ceremony was held on the Ringgold county courthouse lawn instead of at the law enforcement center site, which is not
yet in a condition for visitors. A ceremonial square, level and plumb were used to "set" the corner stone, which was then
consecrated with corn, oil and wine.
A host of Grand Lodge officials were on hand for the event, helped out by members of
the Faith Lodge of Mount Ayr and Topaz Lodge of Kellerton.
The actual cornerstone, which
was not yet complete, will be placed in a place of prominence at the new law enforcement center at some future time.
Mike SOBOTKA spoke briefly at the ceremony, thanking the public for its support for the project and noting that the new jail
was a 30-year dream of Ringgold county sheriffs.
Current goal for completion of the project is in late August.
that tours of the facility would be held before it is put into operation.
A public introduction to some of the words and
symbols that would be used in the ceremony were explained at the beginning of the 11
Taking part in the ceremony were: Craig L. DAVIS, Grand Master, West Des Moines; Kyle A. GORDON, Deputy Grand
Master, Granger; Wendell D. LEONARD, Senior Grand Warden, Clarinda; John A."Jack" COOK, Junior Grand Warden, Mount Ayr;
John M. KLAUS, Grand Treasurer, Mount Vernon; William R. CRAWFORD, Grand Secretary, Glidden and Cedar Rapids; John M. KLAUS
standing in as Grand Chaplain, Mount Vernon; Guy H. POSEY Grand Marshal, Sioux City;
Darrell G. FREMONT standing in as
Senior Grand Deacon, Madrid; A. J. BROWN, Junior Grand Deacon, Bloomfield; Michael R. LANGFORD standing in as Senior Grand
Steward, Washington; Dennis E. WILLIAMS, Junior Grand Steward, Colfax; Scott A. ENYARD, Grand Tyler, Pella; and Michael
R. LANGFORD, Grand Musician, Washington.
Local participants included Michael K. WIMER, Bearer of Great Lights; Warren L.
ANGUS, Bearer of Book of Constitutions; Laurance M. BISHOP, Bearer of corn; William H. FRENCH, Bearer of Wine; Steven L.
OXLEY, Bearer of Oil; Justin J. AKERS, Bearer of Red Candle; Monte AKERS, Bearer of White Candle; Gary E. ROUDYBUSH,
Brearer of Blue Cande; Rodney L. FARIS, Flag Bearer; Kurt SHAHA standing in as Architect; and Michael E. SOBOTKA, Grand
Orator. Samantha CRAWFORD played the bugle for the ceremony.
Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2011
Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, IowaOpen house for the new Ringgold County Law Enforcement Center, located at the site
of the old Clinton Motel along Highway 2 and 169, will be held tonight (Thursday) to give county residents a chance to
see the facility before it goes into use.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Open house Thursday for new county law enforcement center
It's been a couple of decades since the dream of a new jail for Ringgold county was first talked about by county sheriffs
and almost five years since Ringgold county voters approved a one-cent sales tax to fund one.
Finally the new Ringgold
County Law Enforcement Center is getting ready to open and the public will have the opportunity to tour the new facility
tonight (Thursday) from 6 to 8 p.m. Sheriff Mike SOBOTKA and the staff will be on hand to give people a tour of the
facility that is hoped that most residents will not be using as an inmate once it becomes operational.
The dream began
with the three sheriffs that preceded sheriff Mike SOBOTKA beginning to talk about the need for a facility to replace the
1927-era jail that the county has had all these years.
"Someone said that the jail was set up then to house chicken
thieves and much has changed in how jails are set up an run since then," SOBOTKA said of the new facility.
says that the new jail should be able to last as long as the last jail. "I'll be disappointed if it doesn't," he
Visitors will gather in the lobby on the north side of the buildingfor the tours. They will go through
the administrative portion of the building first, then see the booking area, view the five pods for holding prisoners
(three male and two female), go through the "exercise yard" room and view the control room where the dispatching and jail
control equipment in housed.
The facility will be much safer for inmates and staff, SOBOTKA noted.
visitation will be done by video monitor and telephone instead of having direct contact. Inmates will have access
to the video monitor and phone in their cells while visitors will have two stations in separate rooms where they can see
and talk with the prisoners by the video hookup. When attorneys come to visit, there will be a private area for
consultation, but the inmates and
attorneys will be talking from opposite sides of a glass partition. The window set up can also be used for magistrates
to come to the jail to do initial appearances instead of having to transport the inmates to the courthouse.
administrative portion of the new facility will house offices for the sheriff, deputy sheriff and deputies where the
department will have its own armory for storing guns and ammunition.
The new evidence room will have lockers and a more
systematic approach to preserving the chain of custody.
"Not everyone will have keys and procedures will provide
better checks and balances for how evidence is handled and stored," SOBOTKA noted.
A window in the lobby to the civil
clerk's office will provide a way for people to handle these matters.
Several former sheriffs and current sheriffs from
around the area have previewed the facility already, commenting on the layout of the facility.
"The jail is designed to
have an efficient flow for handling inmates and moving from one portion of the facility to another,"SOBOTKA said. "In the
scheme of correctional facilities this is definitely not the Taj Mahal, but people have commented that our facility
would be a model for small facilities in smaller counties," SOBOTKA said.
SOBOTKA joked that the plans should be good
after he had to work on five different sets of plans before the building was finally built. The facility is planned well
enough that only two part-time people will needed to be added to the department to staff it. During the day there will
be two staff present but at night the facility will be staffed by one person.
Part of the planning for the new
facility has been the development of the policies and procedures for the new jail. To help with the staffing, inmates
will be held in their day rooms from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with opportunity every two hours to go into the cells and use
the restrooms. Lock down in cells will come at 8 p.m. each evening at the shift change where there are two people on
the premises. Lock down previously was at 11 p.m. at night and the 8 p.m.lockdown will be the earliest in the state,
but SOBOTKA feels it will work.
"We will be setting more of a daily routine for each day in the jail," SOBOTKA said.
The inmates will have the opportunity for going to the exercise area where an overhead door provides fresh air.
This is required for one hour segments twice a month. The exercise area is just an open room and does not include any
equipment, he noted.
Visitation at the jail has been on Wednesdays, and this has proved to be a problem for family
members to get away from work for visits. The new visitation day will be Saturday afternoon and possibly Sunday if
there are a number of inmates in the jail. Families will still have to schedule their visits on the Monday for
the following Saturday.
Staff has been having training sessions on running the equipment in the new control room in
advance of switching over to the new facility. Touch screens are used to open and close the doors of the jail
automatically as prisoners and staff move through the facility. A key back up system is also available in case
there is a problem with the electronic system.
"Jail staff members are impressed with the new system and we are
all pretty excited about the move," SOBOTKA said.
SOBOTKA wants to have everyone be familiar with the facility
before reaching out to other counties to offer jail services. There are counties like Ringgold county used to
be that cannot house women. SOBOTKA said that a couple of area lawyers had already approached him about clients
who need to serve some jail time who wanted to try to schedule it in the Ringgold county facility.
Tours of facility
As well as the open house tonight, several groups have been given tours of the facility. Mount Ayr Community
third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders will tour the facility for Red Ribbon Week Friday. Other groups that would
like tours that can't make it Thursday night can contact SOBOTKA at the sheriff's office about setting up a tour.
The move to the new facility is currently scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2. It will be quite a production
beginning at 4 a.m. that morning as all the 911, radio, computer and other equipment is transferred over to
operate from the new building instead of the courthouse.
"We'll have several teams of people working on
getting the transition made," SOBOTKA said.
Needless to say, there is the possibility for some interruption
of service during the transfer, though every effort will be made to cover all the possible problems. The plan
is to have everything up and running by 8 p.m. that evening, SOBOTKA said. Also some of the services the
sheriff's department offers will be put on hold while the move ismade. For instance, the sheriff.s office
will not be issuing gun permits from November 2 to November 7 while the move in offices is made.
there will be a whole different set of headaches we will find with a new system, but we look forward to the
new facility and the upgrades it will provide us," SOBOTKA said.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2012
LESAN, Mrs. B. M. Early History of Ringgold County
Centennial History of Mount Ayr, Iowa 1875-1975
Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcriptions and 2009 Photograph by Sharon R. Becker