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County begins jail design

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@h-ponline.com

After much discussion on jail overcrowding and a decision to implement a tax starting in January 2019 to help solve the problem, county commissioners met with DLZ Corporation’s Scott Carnegie on Monday morning to hire DLZ as the architect and design engineers of the construction project.

While it is still undecided whether there will be an addition and renovation to the current structure or a new jail built entirely, Commissioner President Larry Buzzard said he thinks the consensus as of now is to add onto the existing building.

Buzzard said the ultimate decision will be based on cost, but DLZ will design and build regardless of which avenue is taken.

The commissioners signed off on hiring DLZ to begin designs and plan to hire them to be the onsite project representative to oversee the construction, which will be signed off on at a later date.

For now, DLZ will be designing plans for the addition and renovation route. Buzzard said if the commissioners aren’t pleased with the result, then they will move forward with designing plans for a new building and location.

He added that with where technology is today, they will be able to see 3D visuals of what the finished product will look like.

“We’re first and foremost going to look at staying where we’re at and get an estimation on cost and what that thing will look like,” Buzzard said. “With the existing room that we have and the space that we already have, I think we can stay where we’re at.”

Buzzard explained that the sheriff has also expressed a desire to keep the facility where it’s at because it would eliminate an increase of transportation costs because if the facility were to be moved, they would have to shuttle prisoners.

Commissioner Tom Wall stated that the jail is still in relatively good shape, which Carnegie said is primarily because the commissioners have spent the last 4 to 7 years putting money into it.

“I’m not in that mindset that when the building is 40-years-old tear it down and build a new one like other people in our community, but we have taken really good care of our facility. Structurally we don’t have a problem,” Wall said.

He added that they have also taken around 20 civic and business leaders through on tours who have noted that the facility is clean and smells good.

“One of the key indicators of how well a county and sheriff take care of a facility is the odor when you walk in,” Carnegie said.

As of now, Buzzard said they have a very broad estimate for the cost of designs.

The current estimate for construction is also very broad and based on square footage and type of construction, but he explained that if they choose to add on and renovate, it will range from $10-16 million. If they do decide to build a new jail, it is estimated to cost $25-30 million.

“(It’s) very broad. We haven’t purchased land. We don’t know where we’re going to put it, and then we’d have to bid it out,” Buzzard explained.

Bids are planned to begin in 2019 with construction starting in 2020.