By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – It’s been more than eight years in the making, but inmates could begin moving into the new county jail as early as May.
Board President Tommy Vaughn cautiously placed the May time frame for completion during a jail update at Monday’s Board of Supervisor Meeting. Vaughn has worked almost daily at the jail site, keeping a close watch on the construction of the new jail and overseeing the construction of a second, smaller building that will house state inmates. The main jail will house up to 65 inmates, while the smaller building will house up to 25 state inmates.
Vaughn reported the sewage and water infrastructure for the site was almost completed and electricity will be connected to the facility in the next week.
“After that heaters will work to warm the building so it can be painted,” he explained.
Additional work remaining at the jail includes installing fixtures, completing the sally port, or a secured entryway to book prisoners, building the basketball court and placing fencing around the state inmate building, Vaughn reported.
“I feel sure we will be there by the first of May if something catastrophic didn’t happen,” Vaughn explained.
As for the cost of the smaller building that will house up to 25 state inmates, Vaughn reported the savings had been significant for the facility after the county served as general contractor for this portion of the project, bidding each portion of the job separately.
“We looked at a bid of $275,000, right now we are at $99,000,” he explained, Remaining work includes placing insulation in the ceiling and building a fence around it.
Benchmark Construction was hired for a turn-key job on the main jail, which includes design work, securing financing and construction.
The Price Tag
The bulk of the financing for the jail came through a lease-purchase agreement executed last November when supervisors agreed to borrow up to $2.6 million to fund the construction. Another $430,000 was allocated from the county’s coffers for the project, pushing the total cost of the jail to over $3 million, not counting the cost of the separate state inmate building.
The $2.6 million debt will be repaid over 20 years at an annual cost of an estimated $184,000. Supervisors will not have to raise taxes to make the annual payment after millage was retained during the last two fiscal years that was previously allocated for a hospital bond payment the county was paying.
The county also received an ARC (Appalachian Regio-nal Commission) grant to fund the water and sewage improvements at the site. Another expense was the $50,000 price tag for the five-acre tract of land on Hwy. 32 where the jail is located.