SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A new men’s prison proposed for a rural section of Lincoln County would serve as a replacement for most of the State Penitentiary that now sits in Sioux Falls. The penitentiary is a big facility; as of September it had 783 inmates.

Metro Communications, which handles 911 calls in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County, tells KELOLAND News that the agency had 67 calls in 2022 involving the current South Dakota State Penitentiary. Already in 2023, they’ve processed 84 calls to the prison. Even if 2023 brought no more such calls, it’s still a 25% increase compared to 2022. Harrisburg Mayor Derick Wenck told KELOLAND News on Oct. 19 that he’s worried about how first responders can respond to the site.

“See, that’s another thing that I talked to some of the landowners about, and on their why, why it shouldn’t be built in Lincoln County,” Wenck said on Oct. 19. “And one of the things that I’ve told them is if there’s ever a incident that’d be out there, all’s we have is volunteer fire department here.”

According to Google Maps, the current penitentiary in Sioux Falls is just a four-minute drive from the police department and five minutes from the nearest fire station. The Lincoln County location is a 12-minute drive for law enforcement in both Canton and Harrisburg, and as Wenck mentioned, all of the fire departments in the area are volunteer.

Lincoln County emergency manager Harold Timmerman told KELOLAND News on Wednesday that there are paramedic ambulances in Lennox as well as Canton, but not in Harrisburg. Construction for the new men’s prison in Lincoln County is estimated to be done in 2028.