Logan County Judge Ray Gack was sworn in for a second, two-year term Sunday in a ceremony held at the Logan County Courthouse in Paris.
A few days before that event, Gack sat down and talked about his busy to do list for 2017.
“We’ve got a lot to do this year,” Gack said. “The number one priority will be getting started on construction of the new county jail.”
Other things on the list include renovations to the courthouse in Paris, making improvements to Thompson Bay Road in eastern Logan County, and, if grant funds come through, replacing some low water bridges in south Logan County.
Gack said he hopes construction on the new jail can begin by the middle of the year.
The 100-bed jail will be built on land the county owns on South Lowder Road in Paris. Last summer, county voters overwhelmingly approved a 1 percent increase in sales taxes to build and operate the facility, which will replace the current jail in Paris, which was built in the 1980s. The current jail has been repeatedly cited for being overcrowded and understaffed by the state’s Criminal Detention Facility Review Board.The new jail is expected to cost around $1 million.
Site preparation work is now underway, Gack said. That involved tearing down an equipment shop located at the property and building a new one. Metal from the old equipment shop was sold.
“Right now, we are waiting on the blueprints to be completed,” Gack said last week. “Once that is done, we can begin seeking bids for the work.”
Site preparation work is being done by the county and is saving taxpayers money, Gack said.
“The dirt work was going to cost us between $350,000 and $500,000,” he said. “Doing it ourselves will save the taxpayers money, plus the material we are removing from the site is being used on county roads. That makes it a win-win situation for the county.”
Construction of a new metal shop for county equipment stored on site cost $53,750 and that money came from the county’s road department budget, Gack said.
The county has earmarked $85,000 in the 2017 budget for renovations at the courthouse in Paris. That money will be spent on the clock tower of the courthouse. Gack said the county is also seeking a grant to repair the 12 columns at the courthouse in Paris. The grant application will be submitted in February, Gack said.
Gack also said a priority this year will be doing a chip and seal on Thompson Bay Road in eastern Logan County. The county received a $250,000 grant from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to do the work. The road will be repaired from St. Scholastica Church to the Jude Koch Marina on Lower Thompson Bay Road.