Jail Remains On Time And Budget

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
About a year ago, construction was begun on Benton County’s new jail and Sheriff’s Office. In spite of wet and snowy weather, work on the facility is on schedule and costs are in line with the $11,909,958.50 budgeted for the project. As of March 10, a total of $5,398,942.45 had been spent (45 percent of the budget), leaving $6,511,016.05 for completing the building.
“Progress is going great,” said Project Manager Nick Smith, with Septagon Construction. “The key has been getting the roof on when we did, which let us get the inside areas done.”
Smith spoke at a Jail Progress meeting on March 16, attended by Presiding County Commissioner Steve Daleske and Commissioners David Malecki and Glenn Nelson, Sheriff Eric Knox, Jail Administrator Greg Wenberg and Adam I Kuehl, with HMN Architects. Smith said that one-half of the mezzanine would be poured on March 17 and the other half after that. He said that there is glass in the windows, sheetrock has been delivered and a lot of metal studs are up so electrical work can begin. He said that the salley port (secure, controlled entry way into the jail) has been poured, the roof is completed except for the skylights and cell walls on the lower level are finished. The new building will also have fire suppression, which is not available in the current jail and there will be more housing for prisoners.
“At our present jail, we are not taking any prisoners from out of state, because of lack of space,” said Sheriff Knox.
As happens with any big construction project, there were a few change orders that had to be made. The first change was rock excavation necessary for the underground storm water retention – at a cost of $10,000 and removal and replacement of unsuitable soil below the retention area at $3,363.07, for a total of $13,363.07.  The second change order incorporated changes to door hardware and security electronics that were identified during the submittal process for a total of $5,818.39. The third change was generated by a Request For Information regarding the kitchen, equipment layout and required utilities to equipment. It was determined that the walls needed to be furred out with 3-5/8” studs drywall to allow for vents. Total cost was $3,588.20. All change orders were approved by the Commissioners and the cost has already been budgeted under a contingency fund.
Attendees at the meeting discussed the possibility of impacts on the rest of the project associated with the coronavirus. It was suggested that there was always a chance supplies could not be transported or that some supplies ordered from places like China might not be available and other sources would have to be found.
About nine contractors were listed in the jail budget, and one of them – Wright Construction also has subcontractors for things like plumbing, glass, concrete, doors and drywall. Smith said that about 12 to 20 people are working in the building every day, spread around the place. He said that notices are going to be put out stating that no outside contractors will come in. Sheriff Knox said that he had a video of a walk-through of the jail and Smith asked that it be held up until he was able to do some testing to ensure that security is set. 
“The new building already looks just like the picture that was on display before it was built,” said Sheriff Knox. 
He also gave notice that an open house will be held at the new jail before the offices open.
“The jail will be new with a common sense approach,” said Commissioner Nelson.