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A beautification effort for the property that once housed the Piatt County Jail could begin this spring if county probation officer Kyle Reynolds has his way.
Reynolds has proposed using community service hours to plant a garden and provide landscaping for the lot, located just north of the downtown business district. The area has seen limited use since the new county safety building was completed in 2004, and now consists of empty space except for a small storage building.
“I see nothing but positive both for the client and the community,” said Reynolds in pitching the program to the county board’s Building and Grounds Committee Feb. 6. The project would use those sentenced to community service hours to provide labor for the beautification project, which he hopes will significantly spruce up the lot.
“My thoughts were bigger than just a garden. I’m hoping, if we’re allowed to do it, it could be a place for the community to enjoy,” added Reynolds.
A primary role for the probation department is finding places where service hours can be fulfilled. In 2012, a total of 179 residents performed about 9,900 community service hours at various locations, including over 2,000 hours at Willow Tree Missions. Other recipients of community service included the Bement Cemetery, the Villages of Mansfield, Hammond and Cerro Gordo, the Piatt Count Forest Preserve District, Monticello School District and several Piatt County facilities.
“I would like to see us get behind this 100 percent,” said committee member Randy Keith.
Sheriff David Hunt was also supportive of the effort, and thought it could be expanded to help other county agencies.
“I think this is a resource we could use for the whole county, not just to one area. I like the idea of making it (jail lot) look better if we’re not going to do anything else with it,” said Hunt, who was not concerned about public safety for the project, since workers would be supervised.
The committee gave a vote of support to the old jail lot project. It will need endorsement from the entire county board before getting the green light.
Reynolds also thought a portion of the lot could be used for a vegetable garden, with produce being sold at the local Farmers Market or given to a local food pantry.