Polk to occupy new jail by spring 2018

Published 5:25 pm Monday, June 12, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County commissioners recently discussed the county’s new jail construction, with Polk County Manager Marche Pittman saying last week he anticipates the county will occupy the new facility by February or March of next year.

Commissioners heard a jail construction update during their meeting on Monday, June 5.

Paul Luzier, with Moseley Architects, told commissioners the construction is 22 percent complete and contractors have 75 percent of the slabs poured. Luzier said despite recent rains, the project is still on schedule.

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Commissioner chair Tommy Melton asked in a utopian world, what month would the building be complete and open.

Luzier said the building construction is still on schedule to be complete by December 2017 or January 2018, but Pittman said “complete” and “open” are two different things.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked Pittman if the building construction is completed in December or January, would there still be testing of systems and other IT issues to be brought online.

Pittman said the other piece that is not included in the construction contract is the telephone system as well as other pieces that have to be done.

“So, really, if the building is completed in December or January, by the time furniture goes in and staff is trained on the systems, you’re looking at February or March,” Pittman said.

Pittman added that new staff is anticipated to start in January, but there will be training the jailers will have to go through.

The county is anticipating hiring 12 new jailers to help run the new jail, but they are not expected to be hired until after the first of next year.

Luzier said as far as construction goes the contractor has lost 10 days as of June 1 because of rain. Even with those 10 days lost, Luzier said, they are still on schedule for the project.

Pittman said the county was lucky on the project because the site was already prepared prior to the contractor beginning.

Luzier said if the contractor had started in January with an unprepared site with all this rain, the schedule would be much different.

Polk County received a $13.5 million loan to construct the new law enforcement center, which will include a new jail and sheriff’s office, located off Hwy. 108 just outside Columbus adjacent to Milliken.

The new jail will be a 60-bed facility. The current jail, constructed in the 1970s, is a 25-bed facility.

The county purchased 19.19 acres of property adjacent to the Milliken plant just outside Columbus Town Limits for $1,950,000 and another 2.6 acres off Park Street for $125,000 for a total land purchase price of $2,075,000 to construct the new law enforcement center. Some of the property was purchased for future needs, such as a new courthouse and possibly administrative offices for the county.

Commissioners also approved a construction bid of $9,603,350 to Cooper Construction.

The current jail does not house females or juveniles with the new jail being constructed to house males, females and juveniles.

The county frequently transports females and juveniles and overflow males to other counties to be housed, with jail officials saying the county spent $178,000 last year in out-of-county housing costs.