In­mate la­bor saves jail plan

♦ Sher­iff’s of­fice staff and county crews will han­dle the train­ing cen­ter phase after bids came in too high for the project.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner DWag­[email protected]

Floyd County is tak­ing over con­struc­tion of the train­ing cen­ter build­ing at the jail after a call for bids put the price at nearly twice the bud­geted amount.

County Man­ager Jamie McCord said the sher­iff’s of­fice and main­te­nance de­part­ment would man­age the project and use in­mate la­bor at a cost of about $550,000. Leav­ing the build­ing in the jail med­i­cal ex­pan­sion con­tract with Car­roll Daniel Con­struc­tion would cost about $1.2 mil­lion.

“We’re hop­ing it won’t hap­pen with ev­ery­thing ... but there’s more work than there are peo­ple out there build­ing build­ings,” McCord said.

The train­ing cen­ter is the first phase of a $7.4 mil­lion project that will add a med­i­cal and men­tal health wing with 60 beds to the jail at 2526 New Cal­houn High­way.

The fa­cil­ity cur­rently has just five med­i­cal cells. One is padded, for in­mates in a men­tal health or sub­stance abuse cri­sis, and one has a sep­a­rate ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem to house in­mates with con­ta­gious dis­eases.

The two-phase project is funded through al­lo­ca­tions in the 2013 and 2019 spe­cial pur­pose, lo­cal op­tion sales tax pack­ages.

Fund­ing for the new sher­iff’s of­fice train- ing cen­ter — which must be moved from the jail to make room for the med­i­cal wing ex­pan­sion — was bud­geted at $700,000. McCord said there were at least three bids for each work cat­e­gory but, ul­ti­mately, it was too much money to di­vert from the sec­ond, main phase.

“We’ll be OK on this phase,” said Jail Ad­min­is­tra­tor Bob Sapp, who helped craft the so­lu­tion and will be heav­ily in­volved in man­ag­ing it. “It’s a sim­ple project with few site chal­lenges.”

The train­ing cen­ter is slated for a sec­tion of greenspace and park­ing lot across from the main en­trance to the jail. Plans are to or­der a free­stand­ing steel build­ing shell and have county crews and in­mates work on items such as the foun­da­tion, plumb­ing, elec­tric­ity, doors and win­dows and dry­wall.

The County Com­mis­sion unan­i­mously signed off on the change, although Com­mis­sioner Wright Bagby Jr. ex­pressed some con­cern.

“Yes, but the prob­lem is if our crews are do­ing that, some­thing else isn’t get­ting done,” Bagby said.

Sapp and his staff also are go­ing to look at how in­mate la­bor can cut costs on the next phase, which will take place in­side the ex­ist­ing jail foot­print — in­clud­ing the space where the train­ing cen­ter and clinic are cur­rently housed.

Se­cu­rity is a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing con­struc­tion at the jail, which av­er­ages about 600 in­mates a day.

The next step will be to gut the area that will be­come the men­tal health sec­tion and re­fit it as a tem­po­rary clinic.

Then crews will get to work on the med­i­cal sec­tion. They’ll com­plete the men­tal health side after the clinic is moved into its per­ma­nent space.

Bob Sapp

Wright Bagby Jr.

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