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County takes next step in new jail plans
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Effingham County commissioners have agreed to move forward with a design-build contract for a new county jail in three separate phases.

The $197,415 contract with R.J. Griffin covers about 20 percent of the proposed design fee, based on a $16 million jail. R.J Griffin is part of a design-build team that includes Rives Worrell, Rosser International and Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung.

Commissioners had asked county staff to work on an agreement to complete a needs assessment, preliminary plans, site evaluations, options and schematic designs, based on the findings.

“This contract will cover the entire project, although each phase will be approved independently,” said county project manager Adam Kobek.

The first phase of the contract is expected to be finished within 117 days. The second phase will be site analysis, including site layout and a concept plan for the jail based on the needs assessment.

“They will evaluate availability and cost of utilities at each site,” Kobek said. “By the time you finish phase 1, you would know all the costs. You’d have an approximate budget for each location. You’d be exploring utilities rather than simply site selection.”

Commissioner Steve Mason said what they were getting was more detail than he anticipated.

“I thought it was going to be a where, locations, and then kind of conceptual kind of thing,” he said. “I’m confused if we still need 100beds or 1,000 beds, what we need and what we should do. I don’t think the board has gotten a good gameplan of what we want to do or what we need to do.”

County Administrator David Crawley said this phase of the contract will help answer those questions and Commissioner Phil Kieffer added that the design-build team will determine what is needed before a new jail is designed.

Just where a new jail will be built also remains to be answered. The county may look at two sites adjacent to the current jail, one closer to Highway 21 and another closer to Highway 119, and could take another look at a site elsewhere in Springfield.

“I think we should look at all three sites,” said Commissioner Bob Brantley.

Kobek said that when a site determination is made, the county will ensure notice is given so those who may be affected can appear before the commissioners.

“We haven’t gotten to the point where we’re entertaining sites,” he said.

The design-build team will provide a site plan for each site. After program analysis is complete, Kobek added, work on schematic designs, site plan, floor plan and other factors such as interior finishes will be completed.

Should the design-build recommend a facility of so many beds, the commissioners will get to approve that number. Once how big the jail needs to be is finalized, the design-build team will do a site analysis, exploring the costs at each site for the approved size.

“This is definitely more involved than a simple needs analysis,” Kobek said.

Included with the final phase is a 3-D rendering of each building, and the commissioners will get two cost estimates on each site.