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County scraps jail remodel

| February 10, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

Plans to expand and remodel Lincoln County¹s jail are being scrapped following a failed attempt to significantly cut costs while keeping the scope of the project relatively intact.

Bids for the project, which was drawn up by a specially appointed task force working with an architectural firm, came in last June at around $1.1 to $1.2 million. Original estimates had put the cost at around $600,000.

The bids were rejected, and TW Clark Construction of Spokane was selected to serve as construction manager for the project in an attempt to bring down costs by modifying various specifications.

A review last week indicated that while Clark was able to bring the cost down, the project was still going to be prohibitively expensive, said Undersheriff Jerry Rust.

³It wasn¹t a workable solution for the amount of money we had to get to,² Rust said.

After cutting various aspects of the project, the price was hovering around $967,000, where a maximum of $850,000 was targeted. A $500,000 loan from a state fund was intended to partially finance the project.

³Some of the stuff we could have lived with, but we got to the point where we weren¹t even close yet,² Rust said.

He said further cuts would have bitten too heavily into some of the main aspects of the expansion, which included providing space for additional inmates, allowing inmates to be better segregated and improving security and safety for staff.

³Why spend the money and do that?² Rust said. ³We¹re not gaining anything.²

Located in the courthouse basement, the jail is designed for 25 to 30 inmates but has housed up to 42. The renovation was intended to allow the county to hold off on the construction of a new facility, estimated at around $4.5 million.

Designs called for an addition to the north end of the jail along with some remodeling within the existing facility. The jail¹s capacity would have been expanded by up to 15 additional inmates after the renovation.

The addition would also have included a new covered secure entryway leading to a booking area and a new control room allowing central electronic control of doors within the facility.

³We still have some things we need to do,² said Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom. ³We can¹t just say ŒNo, we¹re not going to do anything.¹²

In particular, Windom said plans to remodel the dispatch center adjacent to the jail will continue to move ahead. In addition to improving efficiency and security, some of the changes are needed to bring the dispatch center up to enhanced 911 standards.