Warren County Inmates Moving to New Facilities Due to Courthouse Sewer Testing

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WARREN COUNTY, Iowa -- Rachel Hall's shop sits right across from the Warren County Jail. She says last week’s inmate escape has made her nervous.

“It's scary, because you never know what these people are like, what they're going to do if they're so desperate that they do something drastic,” said Hall.

The man who escaped was 23-year-old Scott Grimes. He’s back in jail after a police chase and subsequent car crash Monday evening.

Grimes won’t be there for long though, by Wednesday morning all 37 inmates will be moved to facilities in Clark and Jasper County while the courthouse sewer system gets tested.

A week ago, Warren County courthouse employees complained about mold, exposed wires, and a growing sewer smell.

The prisoner move doesn't come for free.

Warren County will be paying $45 to $50 a day, per prisoner, plus transportation costs; costs taxpayers say are starting to add up.

“We’re going to have to eventually get the courthouse fixed because we have to have a courthouse in the county. If we don’t, then again we’re going to have to go other places to have all that and it’s going to cost more and more money,” said Hall.

Warren County tried to pass a $35 million bond for a new facility back in May, but it was voted down.

Some people in the town say even a scaled down version of that bond would be too much to pay for.

“The people in this town are taxed to death. They’re taxed to death. We’ve got people on our street, widow ladies that have to move out of their homes because they can’t pay their taxes anymore, and it’s just one thing after another,” said Nancy Wood.

Regardless of what the board of supervisors decides to do in the end, make repairs or build a new justice center, the Indianola Chamber of Commerce says it doesn't want to get rid of the building at the center of their downtown square.

“The biggest concern for the businesses around this square is that we have this big beautiful building. It brings a lot of activity every day, in and out, we want to make it into something amazing that this community could use,” said Executive Director of the Indianola Chamber of Commerce Brenda Easter.

Last year, Warren County spent $300,000 on housing inmates in other facilities.

County Supervisor Dean Yordi says he hopes tomorrow's move is only temporary, and the prisoners can return to the jail shortly.