Commissioners Vote to Demolish Cole County Jail

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JEFFERSON CITY - Cole County commissioners voted Wednesday to move forward with plans to demolish the old Cole County Jail in Jefferson City. The preservation of the old county jail and sheriff's residence stirred up controversy between the commission and people in the community.

Commission members said in Wednesday's public meeting that they have been talking about what to do with the historic building for five years, and now it is time to move forward.

A dozen community members voiced their concerns Wednesday before commissioners made a decision. Some people expressed opinions about keeping the original structure and renovating the inside of the building so the many floors would be put to use. Others think the building could be made into a museum.

Architect Cary Gampher also presented two tentative plans to either renovate or demolish the stone building. Plan A shows renovations to the inside of the structure and costs about $1.8 million. Plan B says it would cost roughly $2 million to demolish and rebuild the jail. Commission members decided to focus on Plan B and continue working with Gampher to determine the budget for the project.

"We are very disappointed in that decision and believe these buildings should be saved," said Steve Veile, president of The Historic City of Jefferson. "That the county should be doing adaptive reuse, which is re-purposing those buildings keeping them intact as they have been for the last 78 years."

The vote let the commission have it's architect draft plans for the new building that will replace the current one.

Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said the commission will continue to hold public meetings and it will take time before they break ground for the project.