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Council approves $1.3 million for jail refurbishing

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Working to remedy the uneasy predicament of the Metro Moore County Jail as quickly as possible, the Metro Lynchburg Moore County Council voted Monday night to move forward with a $1.3 million improvement/upgrade to the Moore County Jail.

The Council’s five-member Budget Committee met earlier Monday and voted 5-0 to approve the measure, thus sending it to the council for a vote later that night.

11-21-14 jail quote“We don’t have a lot of choices,” Budget Committee chairman Tommy Brown told the Council. “It’s a lot of money, but we don’t have a lot of choices and there’s a time frame on it.”

The Council then agreed to a special call meeting on Dec. 1 in order to have a second reading and vote. There will be a public hearing at 6:15 p.m. and the special Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The required third reading would then be scheduled for the Council’s regular monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 15.

Metro Moore County Sheriff Mark Logan told the Council that he was scheduled to meet with officials from the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) in January and that a deadline to have a solution to the issues at the jail, which failed inspection this summer for the first time in its 25-year history, was moved to Jan. 27, 2015.

Logan added that if the financial plan for the jail renovation was approved by then, there’s a good chance the county could avoid construction costs of approximately $144,100 because they would essentially be grandfathered in against a handful of the new TCI requirements.

As it stands, the $1.3 million is a “worse-case scenario.” Logan presented Council members with a detailed estimate from Bell & Associates Construction outlining the costs and requirements, which were based on a conceptual sketch from Cope Associates, Inc. Architecture.

The construction is estimated to take around seven months and should satisfy the state’s new codes for correctional facilities. As is, Moore County’s jail will not satisfy those requirements and if a solution is not reached swiftly, the county could be at the mercy of the state in regards to what kind of facility is built.

When the jail failed inspection, TCI officials cited lack of space for female inmates and poor layout and floor design in the area where the trusty area among other problems.

Since that initial inspection, TCI has identified other problem areas that must be corrected, such as the size of the current cells, as well as the location of several key rooms within the structure, including the laundry room and the kitchen.

Logan told the Council at its October meeting that moving the two rooms would also require moving electric and gas lines as well.

Upon failing inspection in the summer, the jail lost two beds, which was a significant blow to the county.

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