Commission hears from potential feasibility study provider

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ken Upchurch of TCU Consulting Services told the Pike County Commission Monday what sets them apart as a provider of a jail feasibility study is that “we work for you.”

Upchurch, along with business partner Percy Thomas, spoke to the commission Monday about what the company could provide.

“By doing this with someone like us, (contractors) are working for you instead of for the architect,” Upchurch said. “We are the one point of responsibility that you don’t have when it’s just the owner, the architect and the contractor. There’s nothing that ties them all together.

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“We’re very successful working with the community on ‘what if’ questions. We don’t have that baggage. We can ask the tough questions.”

Upchurch explained that the business can not only conduct the feasibility study, but can continue to consult on the project throughout the jail’s construction.

“We can be on from the study to the selection of the architect to the construction,” Upchurch said. “Our job is to work ourselves out of a job.”

That flexibility, Upchurch said, also means the company can be dismissed at any checkpoint along the way if the county is not satisfied.

“If we don’t save you two and a half times our fee, we’ll fire ourselves,” Upchurch said.

As for what the company would be able to provide in the study, Upchurch said the key is communicating what the county can do with the money it has.

“You know you need a jail and you know how much money you have,” Upchurch said. “What we help with is to show you how you can best spend that money and understand exactly what it will buy you.”

The jail committee, composed of commissioners Russell Johnson, Charlie Harris and Jimmy Barron, found the company after an exhaustive search for a business that would not benefit from increased costs of construction.

Harris said the Montgomery County Commission pointed the committee towards TCU and, after meeting with the consultants, felt they were the right fit.

“We got a good impression talking to them,” Harris said.

No action was taken regarding the company at the meeting. The commission will hold a meeting July 13 at 1:00 p.m. to field feedback from constituents about the process.

The funding mechanism for the feasibility study and the eventual construction of a new jail was also up for discussion on the agenda Monday, but attorney Allen Jones informed the commissioners he had not drafted a resolution yet and encouraged them to think about some of the details between now and the next meeting so that a sample could be put on the table.

The commission also hosted Donta Frazier to talk about the Pike Area Transit System (PATS) he directs.

After Frazier spoke to the commission about the usefulness of the program, especially to the county’s older and disabled citizens, Johnson explained the commission’s concern about rising costs.

“The biggest thing is this is a major expense to us and we need to find out to what level we are capable of being a sustainable partner,” Johnson said.

The program cost the county $25,000 in it’s inaugural year and is now budgeted at over $97,000 for the county.

The next meeting of the Pike County Commission will be held Monday, July 10 with a work session beginning at 5:15 p.m. and a commission meeting at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held upstairs at the Pike County Health Department.

The commission will also hold a public hearing on July 13 at 1 p.m. in the same location for feedback on the process of the new jail study and construction.