By KERRY CRAIG
Hopkins County commissioners are moving rapidly toward the start of construction of the new $16 million Hopkins County Jail and Law Enforcement Center.
Over the past few weeks preliminary work has been done on the site just north of the current county jail.
The work involved testing of the soil where the new facility is to be built to determine what type of foundation is needed, according to County Judge Robert Newsom.
“Our architect, Wayne Grondeck, said that the soil tests reached down to about 25 feet before they reached rock,” Newsom explained. “He wasn't real enthusiastic about that, that it was not the perfect situation. But, he said they have worked under conditions such as this in the past and had a good foundation. However, it is going to require some extra work, some extra concrete, to make sure we have the foundation we must have.”
According to plans, the jail will be an unusual structure with lots of weight. It will not only have a concrete foundation, it will also have concrete walls and ceilings.
“Grondeck feels confortable that the site we are working from can support this,” the judge said. “It is just going to take a little extra work on the foundation.”
The next step is to engage a construction manager-at-risk and commissioners looked at proposals this week.
Though county commissioners had anticipated receiving proposals from as many as 15 groups for construction manager-at-risk for the project, only four were received. The court will be making a selection very soon.
“We are going to send out the bid specs and allow these four companies to put in their bids for our jail,” Newsom said. “They are to have them back in by March 28, so we are moving along very well.”
Both the architect and commissioners court will then evaluate the bids and a selection will be made.
By utilizing a construction manager-at-risk, Newsom said the county is employing a layer of protection for taxpayers because the manager must specify a certain price and any changes must have approval from the commissioners court.
“If he doesn't know his business, he's not going to get this job,” the judge said. “If he knows his business, he will be able to set in prices ahead of time and the only way he can change that is with a change order. It's to his benefit — he knows he's going to have profit. But on the other hand, we benefit because we know we only have to pay so much unless we approve change orders. We can hold his feet to the fire to make sure we get a good product for a good price.”
Once the manager-at-risk is in place, Newsom said the county expects to break ground on the new jail in mid-July and complete consruction in 2016.
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