County Reverses Decision To Hire Jail Architect

By David Howell
Editor


WATER VALLEY – After initially taking steps to hire an architect for the jail during the “first Monday” supervisors meeting, supervisors opted to withdraw from the contract within hours after the meeting and take additional steps before hiring an architect.
    In a 4-0 vote Monday, supervisors hired architect G.G. Ferguson to design the jail and oversee construction. His fee in the contract was set at 7.89 percent of an estimated $3 million price tag for the new jail.
    District Three Super-visor Lee McMinn ex-pressed reservations after the meeting and discussed the matter with Board Attorney John Crow and later with Board President Tommy Vaughn.
    District 2 Supervisor Amos Sims was not at Monday’s meeting, but McMinn said all four supervisors voting to enter the contract agreed to reverse the decision. District 4 Supervisor George Suggs and District 5 Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman were contacted Monday afternoon and agreed to the change.
    Both Vaughn and McMinn told the Herald that all of the supervisors felt it could be in the county’s best interest to hire a construction attorney to draft a new contract for the county and seek proposals from additional architects.
    “We had a window to get out of the contract with Ferguson,” McMinn told the Herald.
    “We are just backing up a little bit,” Vaughn added. “Our priority is to not only supply the least expensive facility, but also a facility that will be constructed right and last the taxpayers a long time,” he added.
    Vaughn also said supervisors agreed to bid both a traditional “brick and mortar” jail and a modular jail and the contract with Ferguson did not specify both versions.
    Although the move will delay the start of the design and construction of a new jail, which could take up to 18 months, McMinn said the architect fee could be negotiated with Ferguson or a different architect for less money.  
    The matter is expected to be discussed at a recessed meeting scheduled December 14 at 9 a.m. at the Water Valley courthouse.

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