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Jail plans move ahead

Pike County Commissioners approved the next steps in the construction of a new jail complex on Monday.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve moving the project from the design phase to creation of construction documents, with the expectation of bidding the project in January 2021.

“This is for the construction of a new jail, renovations of the current courthouse, construction of a court facility and demolition of the Dunbar site,” said Ken Upchurch of TCU Consulting.

The project is estimated at $39 million, although the county commission has yet to approve any final expenditures for construction.  Upchurch said his company was reviewing potential bidders’ qualifications now and would make a recommendation to the commission which companies would be able to handle the project. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest in this project,” Upchurch said. “I think you have the opportunity to have good, tight competitive bids.”

Commissioners Charlie Harris and Homer Wright voted against moving ahead, with Harris questioning plans to renovate the existing courthouse facility to house county offices. “When did we talk about that,” he asked.

Commissioners Russell Johnson, Jimmy Barron and Chad Copeland voted to move ahead. Chairman Robin Sullivan was absent.

Johnson said he planned to ask Upchurch to return to the commission to discuss in detail proposals for renovating the courthouse, which has been a line item in the original proposal but not the subject of an in-depth discussion among commission members.

The commissioners also voted 4-1, with Harris voting no, to move the proposal for a $5 million E911 facility from the schematic phase to design development. The facility would be 12,600-plus square feet, located to the rear of the new jail complex and would house the E911 dispatch center. Upchurch said TCU consultants would begin meeting with invested groups to discuss details of the design.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Appointed the interim police chief of Brundidge to the E911 board, replacing former Brundidge Chief Moses Davenport.

• Approved the vacation of a portion of County Road 1159, which was done at the request of landowners on that road. “It basically dead-ends into their property … and it’s my understanding they want to do this for security reasons,” said Allen Jones, county attorney.

• Approved personnel measures for the road department.

• Approved FMLA leave for the revenue commission.

• Approved the purchase of 15 new polling pads and four additional routers for the Probate Judge’s office to use during elections. The purchase cost about $21,000 and will be paid through CARES Act funding.

• Received a report from County Engineer Russell Oliver that the county has received a CDBG grant through ADECA for the resurfacing of County Road 7749 and paving of County Road 2256.