County jail to conduct open house

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office has been expanded into the former Sheriff’s home, with the exterior renovations having been completed before the arrival of winter. While the interior has been converted into a modern office, the exterior preserves the original appearance of the home.

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office will conduct an open house at their newly-expanded facility, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 9, Sheriff Bill Luokkanen said. The purpose of the event is to allow people to see the completed renovations of the former Sheriff’s home located next to the courthouse.

The renovation allowed the Sheriff’s Office to expand into the home, providing badly needed space and storage, as well as providing an extra level of safety to the public who need to visit the office.

“The main purpose of it was to separate the jail area from public access,” Luokkanen said. “We also modernized some of our offices. The physical space has been modernized.

“We have more room. We have a meeting room and training room now.”

The office also has a wheelchair ramp now, making the structure compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Access to the office is now through the front door of the former residence, and includes a waiting area and a main desk.

“It was all paid for by millage money which was for the court house and jail buildings,” said Luokkanen, “so we wanted to have an open house to let people come in and see what renovations took place.”

While not accessible to the public, the second floor of the former home has been also been utilized.

“The upstairs has been basically turned into storage,” Luokkanen said. “Shelving units have been made. We suffered from a lack of storage space for many years, so this was a very big improvement for us to get this storage space.”

Throughout the planning and renovation phases, particular care was taken to preserve the historical integrity of the structure, particularly outside.

“The exterior is remaining the same,” Luokkanen said, ” but we’re modernizing the interior and making it more efficient, and better for people when they come to our office, for lodging complaints, or getting fingerprinted, or getting a dog license, or whatnot.”

The new office also has a medicine drop-off box, where residents can dispose of medicines and drugs any day of the year, as opposed to local agencies providing such a service once a year.

“We wanted to make sure that the people of Keweenaw County can bring their meds, especially like their opioids, that have expired, or to keep them out of the wrong hands,” said Luokkanen.