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Washington County Jail Adds 204 Beds

Last updated on Saturday, October 27, 2012

(SALEM) - It will be four to six months until construction starts on the addition to the Washington County jail.

Joe Mrak, with RQAW, reviewed plans and provided more details during the county commissioners' meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Marcia Walker, of the Salem Democrat reports, RQAW designed a jail for the county in 2005; bids were even taken but the project was shelved by the county council.

"We still have the same problems as 2005, it's just that they are worse now," Mrak said.

Mrak said the old plans provide a starting point, but that new codes and new standards have come into effect since that time. The old plans are being reviewed to see what parts are in compliance and to determine what changes could be made to make the project more efficient.

He mentioned that there are new lighting fixtures now available that are more energy efficient and that there have also been improvements to hot water heaters and boilers.

Mrak said the project has been "sliced and diced" to create alternates, which can be added depending on costs and finances.

"You will have exact numbers on bid day so you get the most bang for your buck and tailor the project to your needs," Mrak explained.

The base bid involves a new cell block, new kitchen and new laundry. The new block will add 204 beds; the cells could be two-person, four-person or eight-person and designed to house either men or women. A mechanical area will be placed around the exterior of the pod, allowing maintenance to be completed from the outside, without anyone having to enter the pod itself. An elevated control room in the center of the pod would allow one person to keep an eye on all the cells.

Existing cells would be renovated for use as holding areas. The new pod will also include two rooms that could be used as classrooms or meeting areas.

There are six alternates, which include adding a shell for Superior Court and adding a shell for the sheriff's department. Other alternates include finishing out those additions and renovation of the sallyport and booking area.

Mrak mentioned some features are being included to reduce staffing costs, such as installation of video equipment for video visitation; inmates and visitors will be in separate rooms, less staff will be needed to supervise inmates.

Mrak intends to meet with the sheriff and judge on a regular basis and also plans to provide regular updates to the county commissioners. He said he is also willing to make presentations to community groups.

"No decisions have been made so far, we're just starting, saying here's an approach," Mrak stressed.

Mrak expects the design to be complete in four months and bids to be solicited after the first of the year. Construction could begin in the spring and the project finished in the fall of 2014.

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