County will move forward on jail annex

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
County commissioners have given the go-ahead to develop plans and pick a site for a jail annex.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to approve a recommendation from County Manager Gary Page to establish a Satellite Jail Annex Committee.
Page offered a bit of good news, saying that current bid prices are running below estimates, which could put the final cost of a permanent facility at or near the cost of a temporary facility.
Page said the county may well be able to build a facility to house 120 prisoners that will last for 25 or more years at a price of $6 million to $8 million.
The county is under an order from the state to provide additional beds or face closure of the county jail. For more than a year, the county has leased space in the Sampson County jail, but the Rowan Detention Center remains overcrowded.
Under the time table, the project would be ready for bids by the fall.
Commissioners have tentatively agreed to put a quarter-cent local sales tax on the November ballot. If approved, a portion of the expected $2 million-plus would pay for the jail.
Chairman Carl Ford appointed commissioners Chad Mitchell and Raymond Coltrain to serve on the Satellite Jail Annex Committee along with Sheriff George Wilhelm, Finance Director Leslie Heidrick and Page.
Page said the committee’s first task will be to select an architect, expected to take around 60 days.
At that point, the architect will be asked to provide a schematic drawing of a facility to serve the county needs and get the best price. He estimated the schematic will cost around $25,000.
The committee will work with the architect to determine the scope and size of the facility.
The committee will also look at county-owned land and other property to select a site.
All of the recommendations will come back to the full board for a vote.
Page also provided Commissioner Tina Hall with information on a temporary facility initially designed for Cabarrus County. Initially, it was viewed as a low-cost, short-term alternative.
Architects said the facility ó basically doublewide mobile homes surrounded by razor wire ówould last five to seven years and cost $4 million or more.
The county manager also explained why he didn’t opt to have judicial officials involved in the project. Page said the annex won’t be part of the Rowan Justice Center. If the project were planned at the Justice Center, he would have included the district attorney and judges.
In other matters, the board heard information or acted as follows:
– Agreed to work out details of providing online feedback for citizens.
Commissioner Jon Barber suggested adding the feed- back form on the county’s homepage.
The comments will go to the county’s newly appointed efficiency committee.
David Boling, director of information technology, will work out the details.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.