By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – After voting to move forward with the construction of a new jail on Sept. 8, supervisors met with an architect company who handles the dome jail design for several ongoing jail projects in the state.
G.G. Ferguson, company president of Ferguson and Associates Architects, told supervisors during a Sept. 14 meeting that his firm was familiar with the product offered by Southern Composite Systems, Inc., and ready to go to work for the county.
Ferguson was referring to the Mississippi company who manufacturers the composite used in the dome jail design that has been identified by supervisors as the least expensive and most efficient solution to replace the county’s 1964 model jail.
Ferguson presented a slide show outlining a variety of projects his company has designed, ranging from sports architecture to jail design, before proposing a “standard rate” fee, which was 6.56 percent of the total construction bid, plus expenses.
“His company has done all of the dome composite jails in the state,” Sheriff William “Lance” Humphreys told supervisors, adding Ferguson has worked behind the scenes with the sheriff’s department to ensure the facility could be constructed within the $2.5 million budget during the preliminary planning for the project.
Ferguson then fielded questions from county officials, with Board Attorney John Crow asking the architect to explain the process.
Answering, Ferguson outlined his firm’s role, which would be to design the facility with the board giving the layout final approval. After the board approves the design, Ferguson would handle the construction documents, the bidding for the contractor and finally the construction management.
“Do you see any reason why we could not stay in the $2.5 million budget building the facility?” Supervisor Tommy Vaughn then asked.
Ferguson answered, telling supervisors that once the floorplan is iron out, he would be able to project a more accurate cost, adding it could be in the $2 million range or $2.3 million range.
The preliminary $2.5 budget was identified based on a building a new county jail that would house 25 joint-state working inmates and 56 county and pre-trial inmates.
“I understand you probably have the most experience, but the woods are full of architects out there. All of them would probably want to be considered for this project,” Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette added. “It could be somebody out there who wants to work for 4.5 percent or 5.3 percent,” Surrette continued, referring to Ferguson’s 6.56 percent fee proposal.
“As far as professional services go, you select a firm based on qualifications and once you have selected someone, then you negotiate a fee,” Ferguson answered, adding another architect might propose a lesser percentage but may not have the experience with this type of project, would could be more expensive in the long run.
“Under ordinary circumstances we wouldn’t consider anything without going out to bids. Competition is always good, but this is a little different animal,” Vaughn said about Ferguson’s proposal.
“I think it is proven in the past that other people went out for (bids) architects and ended up back with y’all,” Vaughn added. “I would hate to go out for bids and somebody come in with a five percent bid, and then overrun the $2.5 million (budget) because of things that they didn’t understand to start with,” Vaughn added.
“What do y’all think, do you want to hire him or go out for bids?” Vaughn asked.
“I think John has to look at some things… I don’t think this would be the time to hire anybody,” Surrette said, referring to the contract presented by Ferguson for the county to review.
No action was taken at the meeting, with supervisors giving Crow time to review Ferguson’s contract. A recessed meeting is scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 9 a.m. at the Coffeeville Courthouse.