Hopkins County's new jail should be ready to receive prisoners in October 2015, according to County Judge Robert Newsom.
The projected date came after groundbreaking ceremonies on the site of the new jail, just north of the current jail facility, Monday.
With the pressing need for a new county jail, commissioners were quick to go forward immediately after voters approved a $16 million bond referendum last November.
In order to obtain the best interest rates, the county sold $8 million before the end of last year, then early in January sold the remaining $8 million in bonds. Commissioners court then began searching for the right construction manager at-risk.
Sedalco Construction Services was approved by the commssioners court, and contracts were signed and ground was broken Monday.
The county judge said Sedalco President Tom Kadar was both impressed and surprised at how quickly the county has moved the project along and said the new jail would be ready to receive prisoners within 14 months.
Newsom said the county was ready for construction to start three months ago and the bids came in in amounts less than had been anticipated.
“The company was somewhat surprised. They said that by us passing what we did in [commissioners] court Monday and having our ground breaking, we are actually two weeks ahead of the schedule that they gave me,” Newsoms said. “You will start seeing action in the next two weeks and by October 2015, we should be moving inmates into the new jail.”
Not only is the new jail expected to be completed well ahead of what had been anticipated, the county judge said the total costs associated with the facility are expected to be somewhat less than the $16 million approved by voters last November.
“We are really pleased and excited that the bid amounts actually came in at $13,452,090,” he said. “However, they guaranteed the maximum price about $500,000 more than that, at $13,972,347 guaranteed maximum price.
“So they left themselves some leeway there. We still have a contingency of over $400,000 that is there to be used in case of emergency,” he continued. “If they don't need that contingency, it comes back to the county at the end of the project, so we are real excited about that.”
The first steps, after equipment is moved to the site, will be to begin drilling and casing holes for concrete piers to support the concrete slab, walls and roof.
The next step will be initial plumbing and preparing forms for the concrete slab that is expected to be poured in December.
Newsom said Sedalco plans to use as many local employees as possible n constructing the jail.
When complete, the jail will house as many as 200 prisoners and relieve the county of the financial burden of housing inmates in neighboring counties to satisfy jail population limits imposed by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
The $16 million bond issue to pay for the new jail means county tax payers will pay an additional five cents per $100 in property taxes to retire the debt.
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