Commission OKs $31.7M jail design

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

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Pike. County commissioners took two key steps to the construction of a $31.7 million jail on Tuesday.

Commissioners voted unanimously to allow architects to move from the schematics design to the plan design, essentially approving a new design for the jail that adds 40 percent more capacity and 29 percent more construction cost.

“The construction total is $31.7 million and that is roughly $7 million more than what the original program showed,” said Ken Upchurch of TCU Consulting, the company spearheading the jail design process for the county.  “But you’re getting a good buy. If you start to narrow it down now, you’re going to regret it.”

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Upchurch told commissioners the revised jail design increases inmate capacity from 125 to 175 inmates, adds a fourth courtroom, and adds about 30,000 square feet to the original project.

“We made these changes after meeting with the user groups and discussing the plans,” Upchurch said, explaining that consultants and architects met with each of the departments using the jail to address space, design and potential growth and concerns. 

The increase in inmate capacity was driven largely by projects based on crime rates, he said, explaining that while the current jail has averaged a census of 75 to 80 inmates a day, statistics and rates indicate the capacity should be closer to 175 inmates. That, as well as concerns over the future of the state prison system, drove the adjustments to inmates.

The additional courtroom was added after talking with users and realizing that some courtrooms were  “doubled up,” he said.

And, the adjustments would allow the jail to house up to 204 inmates without additional construction.

Upchurch said while the adjustments to the design do significantly increase the cost of the project, they were not recommended lightly.

“A lot of people can’t figure out the difference between wants and needs. Pike County understands the different between wants and needs,” he said. “They got all of their needs and a few of their wants.”

The commission also approved a bid for demolition of the Dunbar housing development, which will become the site of the new jail.

The bid was awarded to Complete Construction LLC at a cost of $541,950.

In other business on Tuesday, the commission authorized County Engineer Russell Oliver to hire a contract company to help remove storm debris from roadways and rights of way The county agreed to fund up to $100,000 from its lodging tax rainy day fund for the removal and up to $150,000 from the fund if the county is eligible to receive FEMA reimbursement through an emergency declaration. Any funds received must be repaid to the lodging tax fund.