Final jail study report months behind schedule

Published 10:02 pm Monday, April 2, 2018

A final report on the findings of a study on the feasibility of a new Pike County jail should be done soon according to officials, two to four months after it was expected to be completed.

“We’re still working with TCU (Consulting Services) and Mr. (Ken) Upchurch (the firm’s founder),” said McKenzie Wilson, interim county administrator. “We’re working on setting up one final meeting with judges and the district attorney before they present the final report to the commission.”

The commission chose to partner with TCU on the study back on Aug. 15, 2017 and the study commenced in November. At that time, Upchurch set an expected completion date of “early January.”

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Wilson said there have been some “crazy hangups” along the way that have delayed the study’s completion.

“One of the guys that was doing the study on employees got sick and was out for a couple of weeks,” Wilson said. “And people have been in and out of town and we’re trying to get this final meeting held.”

Wilson projects that the report could come as early as the commission’s final April meeting or the first May meeting.

The commission hired the firm to conduct a study as a third-party to determine the specifications that would be necessary for a county jail for years to come so commissioners can make an informed, unbiased opinion.

Commissioners are waiting on the jail study report before moving any further on the construction of a new jail to replace the current facility, which Sheriff Russell Thomas reported to have architectural issues in September of 2016. The commission took “emergency action” to remove the parapet from the top of the building and reinforced the walls to ensure the facility is safe while a new jail is planned.

The commission passed a temporary sales tax of 1.5 percent for most of the county to raise funds for the construction. Sales tax was only raised 0.5 percent in the city limits of Troy.

Through six months, the tax has already generated just under $2 million in revenue, far ahead of schedule from the $2.5 million projected revenue per year.

“We didn’t know exactly what to expect when we made those projections,” said Harry Sanders, then county administrator.

There is no cost estimate yet for a new facility. The final report from the feasibility study is expected to have cost projections and options for the commission to consider.