Hopkins County Commissioners Court, Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook and Sheriff Lewis Tatum met with representatives from the construction manager-at-risk, architect and others associated with the planning of the new county jail trusty housing facility Thursday afternoon to go over some cost estimates for the project.
The facility will be funded with a portion of the $7 million in American Rescue Plan money awarded to Hopkins County, as a means to separate the jail trusties from the general population, potentially reducing possible spread of contagious illnesses such as COVID-19 and influenza. This keeps the inmates, who are trusted to go with others into the community to perform supervised work, from potentially spreading any germs they may have picked up with the rest of the jail. It also limits trusties’ exposure to inmates held in Hopkins County jail.
The project, as estimated during discussion between county and Sedalco officials Thursday, is currently on track to cost $4.7 million — just under the $4.9 million allocated from the ARP funding for the project.
The project had to be scaled back over the past year due to increased construction costs from chain supply issues such as limited availability of certain materials in a timely manner; the project as originally planned was projected at more than $7 million. Most products are readily available, creating a better market this year than last. The prime problem contractors and builders is that with the market wide open, some are having a hard time keeping up. Ordering as far ahead as possible, getting as many of the required materials on site, especially those that seem to take a longer time to get in, on site before beginning construction should also help reduce wait times and speed up the construction process once it begins.
A kitchen for the inmates to use to prepare meals for themselves instead of say a microwave was removed from the plan, as were some more costly mostly cosmetic materials.
While no agreements have yet to be signed with contactors yet, Sedalco representatives were able to give the county officials a pretty close estimate on actual costs, which came in at close to $4.7 million for the new building to house the trusted county jail inmates. The Sedalco representatives also pointed out some area that were expected to come in a little lower and others a little higher than originally projected, and a few areas that could be substituted, removed or downgraded to keep the project under budget.
Sedalco anticipates presenting for Commissioners’ consideration at the Nov. 14, 2022 Court meeting an amendment to their agreement with the county, to clarify the scope, drainage, a construction schedule and more specifics. Of course, the building will have to get final approval not just from the county but also from the jail standards board.
The 7,860-square foot 48-bed building will be constructed across the street from the current jail and sheriff’s offices. A county building on that property will need to be demolished or moved to another location within 6 weeks of the project mobilizing.
The project managers anticipate updating the Commissioners Court either weekly or bi-weekly on building progress and any changes required, including anything that goes over the budgeted amount, any difficulties experienced.
Tatum asked if the inmates could help with some parts of the project, perhaps tending to landscaping, like they did outside the District Court, Clerk and District Attorney’s offices, to help reduce costs.
There are still some details to be worked out or factored in, including office and communications equipment, and certain aspects of dirt work. Permits and tap fees still need to be addressed.
Tatum said the sooner construction can get going steadily the better. The jail is operating right at capacity. Housing trustees across the street from the jail would free up more cells to house other inmates, including potentially federal inmates who net $70 a day to be housed there. This would also allow the county to better meet jail standards.