In 1851 our St. Francois County jail was a log structure. A man did not like our jail and decided to burn it down! He apparently had only one available brain cell and it did not alert him to the simple fact that setting a building on fire, that was designed to be difficult to escape, WHILE HE WAS LOCKED-UP IN THE JAIL might not be advantageous to his health.
History says the man “nearly perished in the flames”. One cannot help but wonder if the jailers were standing outside pondering if they should open the door for him. After all, he had just burned down their only jail. Where would they put him if they did decide to save his life?
In any event, the Presiding Commissioner at that time was tasked with the immediate job of building a replacement jail. St. Francois County’s first stone jail building was the result. That was the last time until recent history that a Commission was required to make emergency building changes.
In 2015 we were suddenly presented with the need for TWO building programs at the same time. The old Road & Bridge facility on Maple Street in Farmington had reached its limit for safety reasons and had to be replaced. We were also in dire needs of a morgue. It was essential that we address both problems immediately.
It has been a very busy 2 plus years since these needs arose. They have been handled well with both the R&B Dept. and our Morgue now in full-swing operation in their new respective locations. These situations arose just as this Presiding Commissioner came into office. It is important to note that all the other work of the County was also completed while these 2 projects were on-going. We were able to stay within budget and get all the work other done at the same time.
Of course, there have been other building programs in the ensuing years. Our present jail and the Annex building are notable examples. Each of these projects offered the luxury of time in which to plan, design, finance and build the needed facilities. Happily, we had not had other facility emergencies in those 164 years since the great jail fire of 1851.
We are proud of our work crews that have worked so hard to make the needed changes happen. We have some very good people working for our County. It is a pleasure to see their professionalism and watch their growth in abilities.