Work starting on Justice Center additions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
As work starts to add courtrooms and more jail space at the Rowan County Justice Center, the county is looking for a site for a new 96-bed jail facility.
Construction crews from Greensboro-based H.M. Kern Corp. have taken over a gravel parking lot at the corner of Church and Liberty streets. The lot will serve as a staging area for equipment and materials for the $4 million project.
Workmen have erected scaffolding on both the Liberty and Church sides of the Justice Center. Panels on the third floor will be removed to allow materials to be lifted by crane to work areas.
Ken Deal, county director of administration, said the project will cause greater congestion around the Justice Center as streets will have to be blocked periodically to lift the materials to the third floor.
The county is also working to secure additional parking for displaced law enforcement and others who use the corner lot.
The first part of the project will be installation of a “Muffin Monster,” a large shredder used in sewer lines to prevent clogs.
Deals said one of the problems associated with the overcrowded jail is that the inmates throw everything they can find into the commodes to clog the lines.
The $250,000 shredder device will go into an underground vault adjacent to the Justice Center.
The other phases of the project include building two courtrooms and related facilities on the third floor of the section above the Sheriff’s Office, the building known as the Rufty Building.
And a 48-bed section will be added in an unfinished area of the jail.
Deal and other county officials, including county commissioners, are looking for possible sites for a minimum-security, dormitory-style jail.
Under pressure from the state to relieve jail overcrowding, commissioners are considering quick action.
The focus is on a relatively low-cost jail of primarily metal construction that is expected to cost around $4 million. It includes a fenced outdoor exercise area.
Ware Bonsall Architects, the firm doing the Justice Center projects, designed the 96-bed facility originally for Cabarrus County. The plans went through the approval process and are ready for construction.
Cabarrus opted to go with a larger jail downtown.
Deal said the county has land that would serve for the new jail, but officials are looking at all options, including finding sites that could serve as the location for a much larger jail-emergency services complex in the future.
While officials have indicated they would prefer to build such a complex outside the city of Salisbury, county officials are looking at sites both inside and outside the city.
Deal said the new building could continue to be used, possibly as a processing center for inmates on the same site where a new jail would be built in the future.
Commissioners are likely to consider the jail project during the upcoming budget discussions.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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