The Prairie Hill Jail Annex was conceived in 1999 when Woodbury County was experiencing high inmate populations at the main jail in the Law Enforcement Center. The idea to open the "Old County Home", which it was originally, as a minimum security facility, was done under former Sheriff Dave Amick in 2000. A portion of the old building was renovated and added an additional forty (40) beds to the total bed space in Woodbury County. The facility only houses minimum security inmates. Those are inmates that meet a strict criteria. They cannot have a felony arrest history, with the exception of felony OWI convictions, or arrest(s) or conviction(s) involving any violent criminal activity. The annex also houses the weekender program and Projects Phoenix and Compass. The Electronic Monitoring Office is also located at Prairie Hill.
Over the years, vital additions have been added to the annex to help support services necessary to allow for training, food preparation, staff fitness, and asset storage. All of these services help keep costs down for the tax payers. All of the food preparation for inmate meals is done in the kitchen at Pairie Hill. Feeding inmates is one of the single most costly items in the Sheriff's budget. If it were not for the Prairie Hill kitchen, feeding over two hundred inmates three times a day would be a much greater cost because the food would need to be prepared at another site and trucked into Sioux City to the main jail.
The newer portion of the annex has been renovated into two large classrooms, which are multimedia ready, and a small conference room for meetings. Also wthin the newer portion of the building is a full size gynasium and a large weight room and work-out area for employees. The equipment in the weight room is owned, paid for, and maintained by the CWA Local 7177 Deputy and Detention Officers Union.
Additional buildings have been added to store assets such as vehicles and equipment. The Woodbury County Reserve Unit funded their own building for storage of their three squad cars and other equipment. Again, done without the use of tax payer money. Also recently added was a larger building used to house Sheriff's Office vehicles such as the mobile command post, law enforcement response watercraft, and SWAT specialty vehicles. This building was also erected with private donations.
In 2001, then Sheriff Dave Amick and Chief Deputy Dennis Simmons, gave the approval to construct an NRA approved, one hundred and fifty yard firearms range with twenty station, air operated, turning targets. Also constructed was a large range house where the air operated turning targets can be controlled. Federal, State, County, and local law enforcement agencies utilize the range for training, free of cost. Most agencies do make freewill dontations for target standers, targets, cleaning supplies, and other items to help defer the cost of keeping the range in operational order.
Housing inmates and keeping law enforcement officers properly trained is vital in Woodbury County and the Prairie Hill Jail Annex has grown into a facility to help accomplish these goals.