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Plans proceed for new jail
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Work could begin on the new jail and sheriff’s office complex, after Effingham County commissioners approved a change order.

Effingham County commissioners have approved a change order for the new sheriff’s office and jail construction project, which is expected to move the project into construction. Work could begin as early as February on the new jail, since designers have 30 days to complete plans and civil plans have been submitted for early review and permitting. Those permits could be approved in mid-January.

Commissioners, in a 5-0 vote, approved a guaranteed maximum price for the first two phases of the project, the construction of the new jail and the remodeling of the prison. It uses more than $520,000 in contingency funds, leaving the county with nearly $400,000 in contingency. It also keeps approximately $950,000 in county control to complete the sheriff’s office at a later date.

Under all three options presented, the county would have $950,000 that the design-build team would have to come back to the commissioners to use.

“We feel it is a good carrot and stick to manage the first half of the project well, so we are left with funds to complete the project,” county community relations director Adam Kobek said.

The county and design-build team also will be in a better position to plan and design the sheriff’s office with available funds as the new jail and prison renovations come along, according to Kobek.

Kobek said the county’s biggest risk of using contingency funds would come in the early stages of the project.

The size of the sheriff’s office portion of the project may change, but the original design of the new jail, to accommodate 332 beds over the existing 125 beds, will not change. The overall budget for the sheriff’s office and jail renovation and expansion remains at $16.4 million. Phase 1 is the construction of the new jail facility, and the second phase entails renovations to the Effingham County Prison’s kitchen and laundry to accommodate new inmates.

Under the plans approved Tuesday night, the size of the sheriff’s office complex could be reduced from the projected 18,000 square feet, with about 2,000 square feet reserved for future expansion.

As designed currently, the sheriff’s office complex is approximately 18,000 square feet, projected at a cost of $1.6 million. The existing building is 10,000 square feet.

The board’s vote means contingency funds and approximately $950,000 also set aside within the construction budget could be directed toward building the new sheriff’s office. That would put $1.3 million toward the building of a new sheriff’s office.

A second option called for a new stucco shell for the sheriff’s office with re-use of existing bathrooms and plumbing, along with as much re-use of existing doors and frames, electrical systems and heating/ventilation/air conditioning distribution systems as possible.

A third option would have included tilt-up panels for the sheriff’s office, and the office would have been approximately 11,000 square feet. Tilt-up walls were chosen for jail construction for security, durability and economy. The tilt panels are designed to serve as load-bearing members of the structure and the building façade.

All options provide for a completed sheriff office with a new HVAC unit and new doors and windows.

“It will be smaller, but it will be larger than what we have today, and it will be a new building,” Kobek said. “The plan is to see where we are in four or five months, once we get out of the ground and the likelihood of using a large portion of contingency has passed, we’ll know exactly how many dollars we’ll have left to devote to the sheriff’s office.”

A design-build team of Rives Worrell, Rosser International and the firm Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung was selected as the jail planners and construction firm. The current jail has been beset with problems since it was built less than 20 years ago.