November 18, 2015 Edition

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New jail to take two years,
state of old jail uncertain

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

With a new sales tax approved, the SouthBuild Team, the firm commissioned to develop plans for a new county jail complex, will move forward with the next stages of a schedule set during meetings held in August.

Sheriff Jeff Yates said he is looking forward to getting the jail built.

However, construction of the new facility is not expected to begin any sooner than August 2016.

SouthBuild is scheduled to be in Lawrence County in two weeks. During that visit, a timeline for jail construction will be assessed. Yates said he expects to stay on target with what SouthBuild presented in August.

The proposed timeline hinged on the fire marshal and the jail standards committee approval of the new jail plans, a process that may take as long as six months. If the plans can be ready for a target bid period of July 2016, construction could begin as soon as August of next year with a tentative completion date in January 2018.

With the new jail still a couple years away, the county is still uncertain whether the current jail facility can be used until then. Yates said he has a meeting with jail standards on Dec. 9 to discuss the current facility.

Yates and County Judge Dale Freeman have also looked into options for the current jail once it is no longer used to hold inmates. While nothing has been decided yet, renovating the old jail to use as office space is a distinct possibility.

With getting a new jail constructed as his main objective since taking office in January, Yates extended his gratitude to the voters for passing the jail tax.

"I like would to thank the people of Lawrence County," he said. "They came together. They knew it had to be done."

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