|Jail project ongoing
Plans to expand Loudon County Justice Center are ongoing as design talks continue with Knoxville-based architectural firm Michael Brady Inc.
Jay Henderlight, MBI representative, has met with local officials four times on schematic designs, which began nearly two months ago.
“There’s been several meetings and site reviews,” Henderlight said. “One group of meetings was down there to look at how the site sets and to get the surveying started. Another one was to have mechanical, plumbing and electric engineers look at existing conditions to get their work started.
“There was another meeting with the security electronics consultant to look at existing conditions and get their work started,” he added.
Officials have been able to cut construction costs by about $500,000, decreasing the floor plan by 2,000 square feet. In doing so, officials have been able to add nine beds, which brings the total to 266 in the jail, Henderlight said.
He said the only item of note is moving the kitchen and laundry toward the back of the facility. Doing so prevents complications with future courtroom expansion.
“As we get more and more into the design and get things more and more accurate, that just can happen,” Henderlight said about adding bed space. “It can go the other way, but we were able to shift some things around, realign some things and find some ways to find some efficiencies in the layout.” We “didn’t lose any of the spaces, it’s just a matter of finding some efficiencies in the layout.”
Hopes are to complete designs by the middle of December and send them to the state fire marshal’s office, Henderlight said. Once submitted, the review could take 4-6 weeks.
“We’ll get that final and ultimate plan, everything’s hammered out, and I think we’ll take it to commission one more time saying this is what we’re proposing, this is what will get you this many beds, this one’s going to cost,” Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw said. “We want that final seal of approval. Once that goes then Ms. (Susan) Huskey will take over as far as getting some bids and stuff ready to go and hopefully hit the ground running.”
Loudon County Commission in March gave the go-ahead for an expansion costing up to $15 million.
Construction could begin in late March or early April when the weather clears, Henderlight said.
“That’s still the goal,” Bradshaw said. “Of course, we know these things take time, and especially we’re working on some bidding process. That’s still got to come up and go through and get some options there. So we’re looking at keeping the prices down and getting comfortable when you get a contractor.”
The new addition could be ready to turn over to Loudon County officials by September 2019, according to a document provided at a Loudon County Partnership Corrections Committee meeting earlier this year.
Officials remain hopeful the projected end date can happen.
“If we go forward and it’s over $15 million, obviously we’re going to have to find additional funds,” Commissioner Henry Cullen said. “Or we’re going to have go back to the drawing boards (and think of) what can we eliminate? It’s not a done process yet. But I’m still hoping on September 2019 it opens.”
The date is subject to change, Henderlight said.
“That will depend on the contractor, but I think that’s still a worthy goal with the size of the project,” Henderlight said. “... It is smaller and should be less cost than what was designed before, so at each design phase we just review with (county officials) where we are, a projected cost and size.”