New jail pod nearly complete

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A few sections of cracked security glass will delay the opening of 48-cell jail pod in the Rowan County Justice Center.
Construction crews from Greensboro-based H. M. Kern Corp. are completing painting and final work inside the pod on the third floor of the Justice Center.
County officials had hoped the pod would be in service now, easing the overcrowding in the the jail, which has drawn the ire of state inspectors.
As work is completed on the new jail section, county commissioners are set to put a one-quarter cent sales tax on the November ballot to pay for a 96-bed jail annex. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the sales tax issue Monday evening.
In the mean time, the county and contractor are waiting for replacement panels.
Ten sections of two-inch thick Lexan plastic, valued at $40,000, was broken in shipping or at the construction site. Lexan is a transparent thermoplastic material with high impact resistance. It’s used in detention facilities as well as for windshields in race cars.
Insurance will apparently cover the breakage.
Ken Deal, director of administration, said its expected to take three weeks to a month to get the replacement Lexan. Once it arrives and is installed the new section can go into use.
The pod will house the more serious offenders in the single inmate cells. It also features two-padded cells for inmates who might try to hurt themselves.
To get the facility open as quickly as possible, inspections will begin in the next week or so.
The pod is part of a $4 million upfit of the Justice Center which was built in 1995. Sections were left unfinished to provide room for expansion.
Earlier this week, officials opened two new courtrooms and related judicial offices, which was also part of the $4 million upfit.
Workmen are also preparing a large concrete vault under the jail portion of the Justice Center for the “Muffin Monster,” a large shredder used in sewer lines to prevent clogs.
Inmates routinely throw everything they can find into the commodes to clog the lines รณ giving them a brief time outside the cells.
County commissioners approved the purchase and installation of the Muffin Monster three years ago, but there have been repeated delays in finding a spot for the device.