Hopkins County officials ceremoniously broke ground Monday with golden shovels for the county’s new jail and law enforcement center, which will be constructed behind the sheriff’s office in Sulphur Springs.
Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom and county commissioners confirmed the $16 million project during a regular commissioners court meeting Monday morning. The commissioners court, city officials and members of the community then gathered at the site to mark the beginning of the jail construction.
“We are so excited about the project. We approved the project this morning,” said Newsom. “We received the final numbers on the new jail, and we are currently several hundred thousand under budget.”
The facility, which will house almost 200 inmates when constructed, will alleviate the current overcrowding issues in the 96-bed capacity of the current jail. According to Newsom, construction of the new jail is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2015.
Hopkins County voters approved a $16 million bond issue in November to fund construction of the new facility. Once the new jail is constructed, the current facility will be used for offices and storage.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards had sent Hopkins County several warnings previous to the approval of the new jail regarding overcrowding and overcrowding and maintenance concerrns of the current jail. Hopkins County has had a slight influx of female inmates, in which the current jail is not equipped to accept. Hopkins County currently pays Franklin and Delta counties to house inmates to deal with the overcrowding issue. That was one of the reasons the new jail constructions was approved by a 54 percent vote in November, said Newsom.
Sulphur Springs Mayor Freddie Taylor spoke at the event before the ground breaking.
“When I think about this new jail, I think about the team work it took to get this project approved,” said Taylor.
Hopkins County has contracted with Sedalco Construction services to build the new facility and meet the qualifications of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“We appreciate the confidence the commissioners court and the county has given us for the project,” said Sedalco Construction representative Tom Kater. “We are responsible to complete this project on time and under budget. We aim to deliver.”
Wayne Grondeck, architect for the new jail, has been doing soil testing around the area and has found that the rock layer is roughly 25 feet below the surface. Grondeck said that the ground conditions may not be textbook perfect to build a facility that encompasses a concrete foundation, walls and ceilings, but he is confidant that the site will have no problem supporting the weight of the building.
The construction of the jail also means a tax increase for county property owners. The increase is estimated to be five cents for each $100 in property value.
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