During the special County Commissioners' meeting on Friday morning, March 16, 2012, several steps were taken toward the progress of the Nolan County Courthouse renovations as well as the construction of the new jail and sheriff's offices for the county.
The three hour meeting included thorough presentations for the two projects from Wiginton Hooker and Jeffrey, the architect selected by the county, and allowed for in-depth dialogue between the commissioners and the presenters.
Don Olson from the selected architect firm Wiginton Hooker and Jeffrey, accompanied by Jim Wiginton, offered a powerpoint presentation on the new Nolan County Jail and Sheriff's Office construction.
A spacing plan presented indicated the persons per unit in each area along with the number of areas and space standards. A tentative concept plan was shown to the commissioners which detailed an appropriate number of cells and included the mandated gender separation of inmates.
The architect firm, in their presentation, strived to attain the most efficient layout for maximum supervision while using the fewest employees as possible. The construction site for the jail and sheriff's offices was recently selected as being across from the WASP museum.
One of the challenges noted by the firm was to make one position multifunctional for the facility. The design presented will hopefully prove to be efficient while helping to absolve fights and other inmate issues.
The site plan also implements medical accommodations and ADA compliancy while considering the possibility of future growth.
Different features were presented, including an elevated "eye in the sky" amenity where jail staff can have an aerial view of inmates, thus freeing the work floor. Video visitation will be included--which will save the staff time and space, and a multi-purpose area was presented which can also be used for exercise.
An upgraded laundry area and refrigerator/freezer were shown, both having the possibility of expansion. The walk-in refrigerator transitions into the freezer, which is similar to commercial kitchens and will save in energy costs.
For the sheriff's office, several office areas were included for investigations and outside agents, along with a conference room and interview room with a number of additional storage areas incorporated into the design.
The approximate combined area of the building totaled to 35,000 square feet. The site plan, which placed the projected building near the WASP museum and VFW post, noted that the facility will fit fine with room for growth.
The combined costs were also looked at, with the total coming in at an approximated $11 million. $9.6 million of the total is considered to be the construction costs.
This construction will be a joint project with the repairs at the Nolan County Courthouse. The courthouse is projected to be a six-month project; the jail and sheriff's office is expected to take 13 months to construct.
Nolan County Sheriff David Warren was at the meeting and stated to the commissioners that the presented construction only includes the needs of the county. He praised the firm for their efficient design and noted that further storage would have to be done off-site of the new campus.
The sheriff also expressed his desire in keeping the jail and sheriff's office together as one unit as a "separation...would be detrimental". A jail staff member also at the meeting reiterated that sentiment in that the separation would change the mindset of inmates regarding reaction time.
Other conversation took place concerning--when the jail and sheriff's office move--a lack of law enforcement at the Nolan County Courthouse . Looking back to a recent shooting at a Texas courthouse, Sheriff Warren expressed his desire for future open dialogue to discuss the security changes that would take eventually place at each building.
However, the commissioners felt that--while they were in agreement with keeping the two entities together--more cuts could be made to reduce the construction cost even further.
Now that the company completed the spacing program and presented the floor plan, the next steps discussed would be bringing in engineers for the structure and mechanical systems and to consider bringing on a construction manager at risk.
The commissioners approved the presentation of the first stage of construction toward the jail and sheriff's office, and also approved going out for bids on a construction manager at risk for both the courthouse repair and new construction project.