Addressing Growing Mental Health Needs in Boone County

As May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, we are turning our focus to the Unit E wing of the Boone County Justice Center and the mental health and addiction recovery programs it will facilitate once construction is completed.

The Boone County Justice Center is poised to meet the challenges of a growing county head-on. With increased caseloads and evolving community needs, the center is committed to providing scalable infrastructure, ensuring resource efficiency, and enhancing community accessibility. By focusing on these key areas, the center aims to support the overall effectiveness and confidence in the legal system, while addressing the rising demand for mental health services within the community.

Preparing for Imminent Growth

Discussions on the proposed justice center for Boone County began in 2015, involving then-county commissioners, county council members, and former Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen. Nielsen, now serving as the Boone County Executive Project Manager, is overseeing the construction of the justice center, collaborating with various teams and departments throughout the process. Reporting directly to the current county commissioners, Donnie Lawson, Jeff Wolfe, and Tim Beyer of Zionsville, Nielsen ensures smooth coordination and communication.

While initial metrics in 2015 outlined the projected population growth and justified the need for expansions to the existing jail in Lebanon, Indiana, no one could have foreseen the subsequent $3.7 billion Eli Lilly development and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s LEAP District in Boone County. These ongoing projects will significantly impact the county’s growth.

The Boone County Justice Center is poised to offer efficiency, convenience, and cost savings by consolidating multiple legal, judicial, medical, and mental health services under one roof. It represents a shift in the approach to criminal justice for the community, prioritizing rehabilitation over mere incarceration.

With Population Growth Comes Increased Mental Health Needs

With the population of Boone County on the rise, there is a corresponding increase in mental health needs within the community. Recognizing this challenge, the Boone County Justice Center is taking proactive steps to address the growing demand for mental health services. By integrating mental health support into its services, the center aims to provide comprehensive care and support to individuals residing within its facilities.

“The Boone County Commissioners, Coroner, and our partners are not waiting for the completion of the Justice Center,” Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe stated. “We have been proactively working to expand mental health and addiction recovery services to inmates. We are excited about the opportunity to further enhance these services and programs, making them even more robust for the individuals in our care.”

Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe

According to Boone County Coroner Justin Sparks, this year’s data is looking more optimistic, statistics-wise, compared to previous years. This data reflects the Coroner’s current completed investigations, so there is a chance the numbers could increase slightly based on pending investigations.

Overdoses:

2024 YTD: 1

2023 same time period: 5

2022 same time period: 6

Suicides:

2024 YTD: 3

2023 same time period: 7

2022 same time period: 2

“Why the decrease from last year,” Sparks queried. “That is difficult to say to this point. I will say that the private and public partnerships that are actively working on addressing the issues have never been stronger. We have worked hard at building programs and messaging to fight the issues. We have reinstituted the Quick Response Team. This team of mental health professionals, along with members of my team, go to locations where we have had mental health or substance abuse 911 calls within the week. We check on them with the right people to assist them with any resources they need to aid in recovery. Time will tell as the year moves forward, but I feel like right now we are pointed in the right direction and making positive progress!”

Boone County Coroner Justin Sparks

Wolfe confirmed that both Aspire Indiana Health and Integrative Wellness, LLC (InWell), are the contracted mental health providers for the Boone County Justice Center.

Built for Rehabilitation, Not Incarceration

The Boone County Justice Center is being constructed with both current and future population growth in mind. In the initial phase, Unit E will accommodate 108 inmates, with provision for an additional 24 in a future phase. However, there is potential to expand further, with space available to add an extra 48 beds within the new expansion, although this decision can be made at a later date. Unit E itself spans an overall square footage of 34,650 square feet, with a capacity for 132 inmates across both current and future phases. Additionally, Building B is projected to house 144 work-release clients in the future.

As of the publication date of this article (April 28), the construction of the Justice Center is 59% complete.

“This building is all about function … not for aesthetics,” Wolfe said. “The original study showed that we should add 330 jail cells and we could have housed people that way, but it would not have served the rehabilitation track we are on. The primary objective of the Justice Center has always been rehabilitation rather than incarceration,” Wolfe said. “We aim to reduce the recidivism rate by providing inmates with the necessary support and resources for rehabilitation. Additionally, we are committed to ensuring that individuals have the tools they need to lead productive and healthy lives.”

Commissioner Wolfe explained that the Step-down housing will be located within what the commissioners are calling the mental health wing [Unit E]. Step-down housing helps individuals transition or “step down” from restrictive housing [jail cells] to less restrictive environments with the goal that they will eventually transition back into the community.

Max Mendenhall, Director of Capital Investments, added, “These pods [in Unit E] will offer a dormitory-style living area with 8 bunks [to a pod] sleeping areas, similar to the community corrections housing units. There is room to grow in this unit, in the future. The area up on the second floor will house additional program/classrooms where the contracted counselors and related personnel will have their group meetings and the Central Control officers’ area where they have a clear line view of every pod in this area.”

Wolfe added, “We will also have vocational training in Unit E and we are looking to contract with the local schools and apply for [vocational] training grants so we can begin implementing programs such as automotive training, etc., once the building is completed.”

For more details and current updates on the Justice Center, visit livinginboonecounty.com.

Boone County Commissioners Unanimously Approve Two-Year Moratorium on Solar Projects

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lebanon, IN – April 15, 2024 – On April 15, the Commissioners Meeting resulted in a unanimous vote to enact a two-year moratorium on large-scale solar parks and wind farms. This decision followed a public meeting convened by the Boone County Commissioners on April 4, 2024, specifically to discuss concerns regarding these projects.

The Boone County Commissioners stated, “We’re pleased to announce the adoption of a two-year solar moratorium, reflecting the strong community support. We extend our gratitude to all community members for their valuable input. Now, it’s time to focus on finalizing our solar ordinances and comprehensive plan.”

The Boone County Commissioners eagerly anticipate continued collaboration with residents as they navigate decisions regarding solar farms and wind energy initiatives within the county.

About Boone County:

Boone County, located in the heart of Indiana, is known for its rich history, vibrant communities, and commitment to innovation and progress. With a growing population and diverse economy, Boone County is dedicated to providing residents with high-quality services and a high standard of living.

Contact:

Janelle Morrison

Communications Consultant

MADD Media Solutions

317-250-7298 janelle@collectivepub.com

Boone County Commissioners Extend Gratitude to Residents for Constructive Public Solar and Wind Energy Workshop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lebanon, IN – April 5, 2024 – The Boone County Commissioners extend their sincere appreciation to all residents who participated in the recent public meeting on solar energy and wind energy projects that was held at the Boone County 4H Grounds.

The commissioners were pleased with the high level of engagement and the respectful exchange of ideas that took place during the session.

Commissioner Jeff Wolfe expressed gratitude for the attendance of numerous property owners who voiced their concerns and opinions regarding solar farms and the moratorium. He noted that approximately 25-30% of the speakers spoke in favor of solar farms, while others expressed support for a moratorium. Despite differing viewpoints, attendees maintained a respectful atmosphere throughout the meeting.

“We had a full room with Boone County citizens engaging in meaningful conversation,” said Commissioner Wolfe. “The attendees demonstrated the thoughtful and respectful nature we know our [Boone County] community to embody. We value their input and are committed to addressing their concerns as we move forward.”

The commissioners emphasized their commitment to working diligently on behalf of the residents and pledged to consider all feedback provided during the meeting. They encouraged residents to continue sharing their thoughts and concerns to facilitate productive dialogue.

The Boone County Commissioners look forward to ongoing collaboration with residents as they navigate decisions regarding solar farms and wind energy initiatives in the county.

About Boone County:

Boone County, located in the heart of Indiana, is known for its rich history, vibrant communities, and commitment to innovation and progress. With a growing population and diverse economy, Boone County is dedicated to providing residents with high-quality services and a high standard of living.

Efficiency in Action: Justice Center Development Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget

This is the first installment of a multi-part series where we will explore the newly constructed areas of the justice center and provide reports as we tour each section.

Building for Today and Beyond Tomorrow

Discussions surrounding a proposed justice center for Boone County commenced in 2015, involving former county commissioners, county councilmembers, and the former Boone County Sheriff, Mike Nielsen. Nielsen, currently serving as the Boone County Executive Project Manager, is overseeing the construction of the justice center, collaborating with various teams and departments throughout the process. He reports directly to the current county commissioners: Donnie Lawson, Jeff Wolfe, and Tim Beyer of Zionsville.

Initially, projections in 2015 outlined the county’s population growth, justifying the need for expansions to the existing jail in Lebanon, Indiana. However, the $3.7 billion Eli Lilly development and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s LEAP District in Boone County, both currently underway, were unforeseen. These projects are anticipated to significantly impact the county’s growth trajectory.

The Boone County Justice Center aims to streamline operations, offer convenience, and yield cost savings by consolidating multiple legal, judicial, medical, and mental health services under one roof. Rather than merely “warehousing” individuals, the center is geared towards rehabilitation, rethinking criminal justice for the community.

In addressing the challenges associated with increased caseloads, providing scalable infrastructure, ensuring resource efficiency, enhancing community accessibility, and bolstering confidence in the legal system, the Boone County Justice Center is poised to benefit a growing county immensely.

Maximize Efficiency and Professionalism for a Growing County

The newly constructed buildings will serve as the Sheriff’s office and administration offices, the BCSO Emergency command center, the Community Corrections and Probation facility, Coroner’s office, also includes a new kitchen for the entire complex and an infirmary, along with residential housing for the inmates that are working their way back to becoming gainfully employed, productive and healthy members of the community.

Currently, both the administration building and the designated areas for community corrections and probation are completely enclosed. Construction is underway for the mental health block, as well as the area designated for the coroner and pre-booking.

Most of the ceilings in the facility are approximately 10 feet high, except for the entrance area, which boasts ceilings over 20 feet. There have been some engineering changes, providing the opportunity to potentially expand parking within the next year and a half.

Metal detectors will be stationed at the main entry, manned by staff. There is a dedicated room off of the main entrance designated for full-body scans after passing through the metal detectors.

The exterior of the building is made of masonry for security purposes, and the interior walls are steel stud construction. For ease of maintenance, the jail cells will be modular in nature.

The multi-purpose rooms located near the sheriff’s administrative are designed to accommodate officer interviews without requiring access to the administration area. Command and support staff will be located down the hallways, fostering efficient communication and workflow.

“The fact about this particular area is that we had this department operating out of an area that was built for about half the number of people that were there,” Wolfe stated. “We had converted closets and storage rooms into office spaces. This is purpose-built for a department of our size plus what we are anticipating for the future.”

Wolfe shared that the projected growth is approximately 140,000 people in Boone County in the next 10 years.

“If you look at the reality of the LEAP district, that number could be significantly higher,” Wolfe said. “This is what we’re planning for and anticipating that we’ll have a rise in the crime rate for the county purely from a population change standpoint.”

Moving into the conference and training center areas where future press conferences will be held by BCSO and related department heads, Wolfe shared, “We’re installing state-of-the-art technology for the sheriff to conduct press conferences. There will be a designated entrance and exit for the media, along with a separate entrance for the sheriff, ensuring seamless access for both parties.”

 Moving to the lower level of the newly constructed expansion area, this is dedicated to investigations. There is a garage where vehicles can be brought in for processing. Over the past decade, BCSO expanded its crime scene investigation program, but lacked proper facilities for evidence processing. This space will feature lockers for deputies to securely store evidence, ensuring its integrity.

Also housed in this area is a space dedicated to the officers’ health and well-being.

Nielsen added, “One of the big focuses on this expansion is on mental and physical health. This workout area will house different workout machines and free-lift weights and those types of things to help with that focus on the well-being of the officers. This area will also be outfitted with locker rooms for convenience.”

The Infirmary site features a secured hallway that offers holding areas for inmates in need of medical assistance or support.

Wolfe added, “Previously, the infirmary was no larger than one of these [new] holding areas in totality. There will be 5 hospital beds plus a bariatric bed and additional office space for nurses and doctors. It will be climate controlled so that the area can be isolated for situations like COVID.”

Under Budget and On Schedule

“We are over 50% completed and are at or slightly below budget at this time,” Wolfe shared. “This is a BOT (build-operate-transfer) project so the total budgeted number of $59,151,323.00 will not change. Where there can be minor changes to the FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) we are paying for with cash and we are well within budget.”

Nielsen added, “We have a great team put together between the design, construction and development teams and the on-site teams. We’ve all gelled well and in addition to favorable weather conditions, I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re on budget and ahead of schedule.”

From the outset of planning, years ago when Nielsen served as the county’s sheriff, a design centered on rehabilitation rather than incarceration has been a primary focus for the Commissioners and the Sheriff.

“One of the things that’s really impressive about this whole project design is that we literally sent K2M our specs and they built the project to those specs,” Wolfe explained. “We didn’t adopt their ideas … they have built exactly what we asked them to.”

Stay tuned for upcoming reports on the expansion areas of the justice center. For more background on the Justice Center project, visit the Boone County Commissioners’ website at livinginboonecounty.com.

Boone County Explores Future Building Space and Staffing Needs

PRESS RELEASE

Lebanon, IN – February 16, 2024 – Boone County is taking proactive steps to plan for
the future by conducting a comprehensive assessment of its building space and staffing
requirements. Scheduled for Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at 6:30 PM, the assessment
presentation will take place at the Boone County Fairgrounds’ Witham Pavilion, located
at 1300 E 100 S, Lebanon, IN 46052.

K2M Design Inc., a leading architectural and engineering firm, has been collaborating
closely with key stakeholders in Boone County. By analyzing historical data and
projecting the county’s growth and development over the next 10 to 20 years, K2M
Design aims to provide valuable insights into how governmental services can best meet
the evolving needs of Boone County residents.

The Boone County Board of Commissioners welcomes the public to attend K2M
Design’s presentation. This event offers community members the opportunity to learn
about the findings of the assessment and participate in a dialogue about the future of
Boone County’s infrastructure and workforce.

“We recognize the importance of planning to ensure that our county can continue to
thrive and provide essential services to our residents,” said Jeff Wolfe, Boone County
Commissioner. “We encourage all members of the community to join us for this
presentation and share their input as we work towards a sustainable and prosperous
future for Boone County.”

Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions
and engage in discussions with representatives from K2M Design and the Boone
County Board of Commissioners.

About Boone County:

Boone County, located in the heart of Indiana, is known for its rich history, vibrant
communities, and commitment to innovation and progress. With a growing population
and diverse economy, Boone County is dedicated to providing residents with high-
quality services and a high standard of living.

About K2M Design Inc.:
K2M Design Inc. is a full-service architectural and engineering firm specializing in
creating innovative and sustainable solutions for clients across various industries. With
a focus on collaboration and excellence, K2M Design is dedicated to helping
communities like Boone County plan for the future and thrive in an ever-changing world.

Contact:
Janelle Morrison
Communications Consultant
MADD Media Solutions
317-250-7298
janelle@collectivepub.com

Boone County Needs Assessment Presentation 02/20/24

JOIN US!!

Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Boone County Fairgrounds
Witham Pavilion
1300 E 100 S, Lebanon, IN 46052

Boone County looks into the future of building space and
staffing needs assessment. K2M Design Inc. has been
working closely with key stakeholders by analyzing
historical data and envisioning where the County will be
in 10-20 years to understand how governmental services
will meet the needs of Boone County residents. The
Boone County Board of Commissioners encourages the
public to attend K2M’s presentation. There will be an
opportunity for questions.

Healthy Living in Boone County

In the 2023 County Health Rankings, Boone County secured the position of the third healthiest county in Indiana. This accomplishment underscores the county’s persistent dedication to promoting the health and well-being of its community members. Published on an annual basis, the County Health Rankings provide essential insights into the determinants impacting health within the county and furnish a roadmap for prospective advancements.

A Collaborative Effort to Stay Healthy

The third-place designation for Boone County as the healthiest county in Indiana is a testament to the unwavering dedication of the Healthy Coalition. Made up of committed community partners, this coalition has diligently mobilized and delivered coordinated services through a unified public health system. Through the promotion of healthy lifestyles and targeted interventions addressing critical health needs, the Healthy Coalition has played a pivotal role in securing this noteworthy achievement.

The County Health Rankings are available at countyhealthrankings.org.

President of the Boone County Commissioner Don Lawson expressed his enthusiasm for this recognition, stating, “We are incredibly proud to be named the third healthiest county in Indiana. This achievement reflects the dedication and hard work of our community partners, healthcare professionals and residents who have come together to prioritize health and well-being. It is a testament to our commitment to creating a healthier, happier and more vibrant Boone County.”

Lisa Younts, RN, Boone County Health Dept. Administrator and Nursing & Vital Records Director, discussed what it takes to be listed as one of the state’s healthiest counties and how the county’s health department has been firing on all cylinders since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Lisa Younts

“We’ve gotten back to the normalcy of what we were doing before COVID,” Younts said. “All of our programs are back in full swing. Even though COVID-19 is still circulating, we’re fortunate enough to still have COVID tests that we are providing to the public for free. It is nice to do our normal day-to-day duties on top of that.”

When asked what factors are considered to be ranked at the top of the health rankings, Younts replied, “There are quite a few factors that go into the overall understanding of the health rankings of a population. Where Boone County has its best numbers in terms of health outcomes that represent how healthy a county is right now [is] length of life and quality of life. The health factors that we can modify are behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity. Where Boone County differs from other counties [in] a reporting aspect is that 84% of our residents reported having access to exercise opportunities. [It] is huge to have that access because not all communities have that.”

Younts commended the county’s communities for their collaborative efforts in connecting and extending trail systems and expanding parks and green spaces, all of which provide access to physical activity to all of the county’s residents, employees and visitors.

Rail Trail

Health Education Is Key

Younts emphasized that educating the public is essential to preventing illness and maintaining a healthy, vibrant county. The Boone County Health Department continues to offer and promote its programs and services. It has elevated its public education offerings by utilizing its public information officer Claire Houghton even more as the county’s population grows exponentially.

“The health department’s community efforts are aimed at the prevention of disease and the promotion of health,” Younts said. “We are constantly working to get the information out there to prevent things from happening. We’re able to do what we do because of the community partnerships that we’ve created throughout the years, especially with the Boone County commissioners, Witham Hospital and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office. All of these community partners came together for the COVID response, and because we were fortunate to already have these relationships in place, it made it easier for the county to move forward.”

Younts shared that the health department’s biggest programs are its immunization and food safety programs.

“We participate in the state’s immunization program, which allows us to give low-cost or no-cost vaccines if you qualify,” Younts said. “That is huge in that it allows us to break down that barrier and enables us to give vaccinations to our residents.”

The health department also provides required vaccinations to students of the county’s three public school districts. Younts explained that they provide clinics for routine vaccinations and flu clinics for the general public as well. Younts ranks educating the public on the importance of staying up on vaccinations as a high priority and a requirement to maintain a healthy county status.

“While not all vaccines prevent [illness], they will make it less severe and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death,” Younts emphasized. “We work to provide education on all of the various vaccinations so that individuals can make informed decisions. We do homebound vaccines for those individuals [who] cannot come out to us. It’s another way that we can break down those barriers.”

Younts spoke about the health department’s goals to have its PIO available to as many organizations throughout the county as possible. She mentioned that no health-related topic is off-limits.

“The more the word gets out, the more we can hopefully help,” Younts said. “If any company, events or organization would like more information on a health topic, we are making Claire available to everyone in the county as much as possible. We offer all sorts of health education programs to the community. Claire’s been doing a lot in the [county] schools, but we’re hoping to get her in front of a lot of different organizations as well.”

Younts is hopeful that as the county’s population grows and more companies relocate to the county, her budget will allow her to expand the PIO department and reach even more people and businesses by adding another public information officer to her staff in the next couple of years.

For more information on all the programs and services provided by the Boone County Health Department, visit boonecounty.in.gov. You can also follow the department on Facebook.

Boone County: A Thriving Community Magnet for New Businesses

A strong and attractive county often possesses a combination of economic, social, and environmental factors that contribute to its overall appeal. Boone County earned the prestigious title of “2023 NextEra Energy Resources Community of the Year” and was awarded that honor by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce on November 14, 2023. This accolade reflects the county’s remarkable growth, quality of life, and business-friendly environment.

The award ceremony, held in downtown Indianapolis, showcased Boone County’s achievements in economic development, workforce initiatives, and community engagement. This recognition is a testament to the county’s commitment to sustainable growth, attracting investment, enhancing its residents’ quality of life, and providing a business-friendly environment.

Quality of Life and Place                                                                

Boone County’s most recent notable achievements include securing nearly $800 million in business expansions over the past five years. Significant investments include Ken’s Foods, NewCold, REGO-FIX, GR Brands, FTIC, and Eli Lilly. Small businesses contribute to more than 80% of the county’s economy, and Boone County currently ranks highest in the state for employment growth at 10%.

Amenities contribute not only to residents’ comfort and enjoyment but also to the county’s economic development. By enhancing the overall attractiveness of an area, amenities can contribute to increased property values, business growth, and a positive community image. These factors lead to a more vibrant and sustainable county.

The six communities located throughout Boone County offer their own unique and impactful amenities that enhance quality of life and continue to attract new businesses to the county.

Molly Whitehead, executive director of the Boone EDC, said, “The Boone Economic Development Corporation (Boone EDC) nominated Boone County for this award. We wanted to acknowledge—and obviously, the Indiana Chamber [of Commerce] wanted to acknowledge—not only the county’s tremendous growth but also the communities that we are building. It’s not just about the economic development; it’s also about the quality of ‘place.’ It’s acknowledging the parks and the amenities that the county offers its residents. It’s about the quality of life that the county provides, no matter what lifestyle someone is looking for, and it’s about making sure that we’re telling that story because we’re doing some pretty amazing things here in Boone County.”

Molly Whitehead

When asked about the county’s greatest strength that continues to attract new businesses, Whitehead said, “One of the biggest assets that we have going for us is having Interstate 65 and even I-74 going through Boone County. That I-65 connection from Indianapolis to Chicago brings 90,000 vehicles through our community every single day. One of the major reasons that companies choose to locate in Boone County is because of where we are geographically located. They want to be close to the major metropolitan areas, air transport and the access to workforce.”

Whitehead shared that even before the LEAP project was on anyone’s radar, Boone County was experiencing exponential growth. Based on the 2020 census, it is the second fastest-growing county in the state and 63rd in the nation.

Rendering of LEAP District

“There is a lifestyle for anybody here in Boone County,” Whitehead emphasized. “That’s true from a residential standpoint as well as an industrial and commercial standpoint. Each [Boone County] community needs to adopt their best version of themselves and work together to be successful as a [county] community. Being the ‘Best Community’ is about us collectively working together and what we’re able to accomplish together. The Indiana Chamber Award was meant for Boone County. It wasn’t meant for Boone County Government; it was meant for all of us collectively. Lebanon, Whitestown, Thorntown, Advance, Jamestown and Zionsville—we are all part of Boone County. Let’s all celebrate this [accolade], as it is something to be proud of.”

For more information on the Boone EDC’s initiatives, visit BetterInBoone.org.

Boone County Justice Center: Building for a Healthier Community

November/December 2023

The Boone County Commissioners held an event on Nov. 9 for the general public to view the progress and vision for the Boone County Justice Center. The event included a virtual reality tour and fly-through video presentation. These tours offer a detailed preview of the Justice Center’s design and layout, providing a sense of the facility’s significance to Boone County.

We spoke with Boone County Sheriff Tony Harris and a couple of other county department heads who will relocate to the Justice Center upon its completion, which is slated for 2025.

Boone County Justice Center

Purposeful Planning for the Current and Growing Population

Discussions on a proposed justice center for Boone County began in 2015 with then-county commissioners, county councilmembers, and former Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen. Nielsen is currently the Boone County Executive Project Manager and is overseeing the construction of the justice center, collaborating with a myriad of teams and departments throughout the process. Nielsen reports directly to the [current] county commissioners: Donnie Lawson, Jeff Wolfe and Tim Beyer [Zionsville].

While [2015] metrics mapped out the projected growth in the county’s population and justified the need for the expansions to the existing jail in Lebanon, Indiana, the commissioners and impacted [county] department heads could not have predicted the $3.7 billion Eli Lilly development and the IEDC’s LEAP District in Boone County that are currently underway. These projects will have an enormous impact on the county’s growth. The Boone County Justice Center will offer efficiency, convenience and cost savings by bringing together multiple legal, judicial, medical and mental health services under one roof. The Justice Center is rethinking criminal justice for the community, and rather than “warehousing” people, it will focus on their rehabilitation.

The Boone County Justice Center will benefit a growing county by addressing the challenges associated with increased caseloads, providing scalable infrastructure, ensuring resource efficiency, enhancing community accessibility, and supporting the overall effectiveness and confidence in the legal system.

Boone County Justice Center

“The Justice Center project is well underway, and it’s a great feeling to see buildings take shape and what that means for our community and respective agencies,” said Boone County Coroner Justin Sparks. “For me, this is taking our office from struggling to meet the demand for service as a result of growth to a place that will not only meet those needs today but for many years to come.”

Sparks spoke about Nielsen’s role as the center’s project manager. “As a public safety professional, I am a doer—I use the tools at hand to solve problems. What I am not is a professional builder or construction project manager. Fortunately, the commissioners have Mike Nielsen in that role. I couldn’t have imagined going into this project the amount of interface required between the building side and the department heads. Mike has been an amazing asset in this role. We, the department heads, get weekly emails on the status of the project, upcoming milestones, and various other information points. That’s huge for us because it allows us to continue to focus on meeting the missions we do daily and not diverting us to construction issues full-time. This also provides a central point for information and communication. I think the commissioners have built a great team to accomplish this goal. I am thankful to the residents of Boone County for their support and look forward to the facility’s opening!”

Boone County Corrections Executive Director Michael Nance shared a statement on behalf of his department and Chief Probation Officer Steve Owens.

“Probation and Community Corrections work closely with the Project Manager, Mike Nielsen. We receive weekly updates and attend frequent meetings in order to stay engaged and apprised of project overview and progress. Recently 3D simulations have been made available, which give us the opportunity to more clearly envision what our space will look like when completed. The Project Management team has valued our input, and the Chief Probation Officer and I both are excited for the potential of the space to be able to better serve our clients and the citizens of the county.”

Collaboration Is Key to Staying on Budget and On Time

The commissioners and Nielsen were pleased to report at their event on Nov. 9 that the Justice Center project is currently on schedule and on budget.

Boone County Justice Center

“We are up to 32% complete on the overall project, and we are on budget,” Nielsen stated. “We are ahead of schedule when it comes to having new utilities permanently installed (water, electric, etc.). From a project perspective, it is a huge undertaking and a huge milestone to hit when it comes to having all the utilities completed at this early-stage project.”

Nielsen added, “Right now, we are focused on getting the new Boone County Corrections building and the sheriff’s administration building under [one] roof and enclosed enough so that we can continue to work inside during the winter months. And we feel pretty confident that we can remain on schedule and on budget, which will allow us to turn over the project anywhere between February of 2025 and November of 2025. That’s a long span, but that’s because logistically, there are certain parts of the buildings that we will have to open up earlier than others to ensure that we don’t affect operations within the sheriff’s office.”

The facilities for basic operations, such as the kitchen, laundry and medical services, in addition to booking and holding, have been temporarily and strategically relocated until their respective areas have been constructed.

“Those types of logistics don’t create problems for us, but they are challenges for us to work through so that we don’t interfere with the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office,” Nielsen emphasized. “We have overcome the challenges because of the team that we’ve put together. Everybody’s working together to make sure that we finish on schedule and on budget. Everything that happens goes through an approval process from the construction side to the internal management side, and then everything goes before the commissioners for final approval.”

Boone County Sheriff Tony Harris also spoke about the logistical planning and temporary relocations that his office has planned throughout the phases of construction.

“BCSO has had to limit some of the classes and that sort of thing only because we don’t have our classrooms [at this phase of construction],” Harris shared. “Capt. Tim Turner [Jail Division Commander] and I had to come up with a plan on how we’re going to process people coming in. We’ve moved all the equipment to another ‘block’ to do the processing: fingerprints, pictures, body scan, etc.”

Harris explained that the new space for BCSO will open up many more services than the previous jail could offer, which will be vital to a growing county population and will provide the necessary space for BCSO to address a critical need for mental health services within its inmate population.

Harris added, “We’ll be able to be much more self-sufficient in Boone County and offer more services once that gets open. We’ve got to get ahead of this growth in [Boone] County. We’ve been so good at working with other [county] departments and municipalities, but we have to continue, as law enforcement, to work together and share information on a daily basis to make sure that we are keeping ahead of crime. We have to continue to be the proactive county that we’ve been.”

Boone County Commissioners Announce Temporary Lane Closure on CR-300 Due to Lily Lebanon Project

The Boone County Commissioners received information on November 6 from Lilly and are notifying the public of a temporary lane closure on County Road 300 North (CR-300 N), eastbound traffic only, that began on November 6. This lane reduction is a result of the ongoing Lily Lebanon Project, a significant project and infrastructure improvement initiative in the county. The road is only open for east bound traffic and closed to west bound traffic.

The closure will affect the stretch of CR-300 N between US Highway 52 and Witt Road, specifically on the south side of the Lily Lebanon Project site campus. Motorists are advised to exercise caution and expect delays, particularly in the vicinity of the intersection of CR-300 N and State Route 39 (SR-39).

The lane reduction is expected to last for a duration of five weeks, as crews work diligently to move this restriction along.

Boone County Commissioner President, Donnie Lawson, commented on the temporary lane closure, saying, “We understand that this lane reduction will inconvenience some of our residents.  The goal is to have this work completed as quickly as possible to minimize this inconvenience.  Upon completion, these improvements will enhance safety and connectivity as development occurs in Boone County.  We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation during this time.”

The Boone County Commissioners express their gratitude to the community for their understanding and cooperation.

November 14, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT

Rachael Coverdale

rachael@coverdaleconsulting.com

317-518-2243

Boone County Commissioners Extend Gratitude and Respect to Veterans on Veterans Day

The Boone County Commissioners are deeply honored to extend their heartfelt gratitude and respect to veterans on this Veterans Day. 

This occasion serves as an opportunity for our community to come together and express our unwavering appreciation for the brave men and women who have selflessly served in the United States Armed Forces.

Commissioner President Donnie Lawson emphasized the significance of this day, saying, “Veterans Day is a moment for us to reflect on the immense sacrifices made by our veterans. Their commitment to our nation’s safety and freedom deserves our utmost respect. As commissioners, we stand united in thanking our veterans for their service, not just today, but every day.”

The Boone County Commissioners invite all residents to join them in expressing appreciation for veterans in their local community and across the nation. 

“Let us recognize the sacrifices made by our veterans and extend our gratitude to them not only through words but also through meaningful actions that support their well-being and integration into civilian life,” said Commissioner Lawson.

In honor of Veterans Day, the Boone County offices will be closed on November 10th.

November 8, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT

Rachael Coverdale

rachael@coverdaleconsulting.com

317-518-2243

Boone County Justice Center Progress Unveiled: Join Us for a Sneak Peek Event!

The Boone County Commissioners are excited to invite the public to an exclusive event that will provide a sneak peek into the progress and vision for the Boone County Justice Center. 

This event aims to showcase the construction progress that has been achieved and give attendees a glimpse of what the completed Justice Center will look like.

Date: November 9, 2023

Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Connie Lamar Conference Room, Boone County Annex Building

“The Boone County Justice Center, a pivotal project for our community, is rapidly taking shape, and we want to share this exciting journey with you. This event will be a unique opportunity for the public to engage with the project and gain insights,” said Boone County President, Donnie Lawson.

Highlights of the event include:

Fly-Through Video Presentation: Immerse yourself in the future of Boone County with a captivating fly-through video that will be displayed on loop on the TVs in the Connie Lamar Conference Room. This visual tour will offer a detailed preview of the Justice Center’s design and layout, providing a sense of the facility’s significance to our county.

Virtual Reality Tour: Step into the virtual realm and experience the Boone County Justice Center like never before. With our VR tour, you’ll have the chance to explore the interior and exterior aspects of the building, gaining a firsthand perspective of what it will offer to our community.

Meet the Project Team: Engage in informative discussions with the dedicated team members responsible for the Boone County Justice Center expansion project. Our experts will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have, providing valuable insights into the construction process and the Justice Center’s anticipated impact on Boone County.

This event is open to the media and public, and we encourage everyone in Boone County to attend and be part of this exciting moment.

October 25, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT

Rachael Coverdale

rachael@coverdaleconsulting.com

317-518-2243

Boone County Commissioners Encourage Safe and Spooky Halloween Celebrations

Halloween is a time of fun and excitement for people of all ages, and the Boone County Commissioners want to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. 

To help you plan your Halloween festivities, here are the designated trick-or-treat hours for Boone County: 

Jamestown: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Lebanon: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Thorntown: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Whitestown: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Zionsville: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Please note these times and plan your Halloween activities accordingly. We encourage residents to respect these designated hours to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Halloween Safety Tips:

Be Visible: Use reflective clothing, carry a flashlight, or add reflective tape to costumes and bags to make sure you’re seen by drivers.

Stay in Groups: Trick-or-treating is more fun with friends and family. Always walk in groups and stay together. Younger children should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Inspect Treats: Before indulging in your Halloween candy, make sure to inspect it for any unwrapped or suspicious-looking items. Safety comes first, so if in doubt, it’s best to discard any questionable treats.

For additional Halloween activities and events happening in Boone County, we encourage you to check out the following link: Boone County Halloween Activities.

Message from the Boone County Commissioners:

“We wish you all a safe, fun-filled, and spooktacular Halloween. We are proud to be part of such vibrant and caring communities, and together, we can make this Halloween season memorable for all the right reasons.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2023

MEDIA CONTACT

Rachael Coverdale

rachael@coverdaleconsulting.com

317-518-2243