The county was supposed to open bids on a new county jail last week, however, the Quorum Court’s Jail Committee had other ideas, according to its chairman Justice of the Peace Mike Schluterman.
“We decided to postpone it a week to restructure the bid package in an effort to entice more bidders,” Schluterman said last week.
The bid opening is now scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday in the third floor courtroom of the Logan County Courthouse in Paris. The Jail Committee has scheduled a Friday meeting to go over the bids.
Schluterman said the postponement was about getting more bids for the steel jail cells called for in the plans.
“There are three companies in the country that build those kind of cells,” he said. “The way it is in the bid package, only one was going to bid. We needed the extra time to get another bid or two. We don’t like extending this but if it will save the county $100,000, it’s worth it.”
Thursday’s bid opening will be the second this year on the project to replace the current Logan County Detention Center which was built in Paris in the 1980s. The current jail has been repeatedly cited for violations of jail standards. Last year, voters in the county overwhelmingly approved a one percent hike in sales taxes to build, operate and maintain the new jail. Last November, $10 million in bonds were sold backed by the tax. In the election, voters authorized issuing up to $13 million in bonds.
The first bid opening took place this summer and the bids came in at $13.6 million, more than the $13 million the county can spend on the project. However, those bids were for a 132-bed jail and the county is only building a 100-bed jail. Logan County Judge Ray Gack blamed miscommunication for seeking bids for a larger than intended facility.
In addition to more beds, the first set of bids were for a two-story jail. The bids to be opened Thursday are for a one-story building.
When the initial bids came in high, the county asked for a revision of plans in an attempt to lower the cost.
Gack has said he wants to spend only $10 million on the project and expressed hope that new bids would come in below that.
“I think they’ll come in at $8.5 million or $9 million, but we’ll know for sure Thursday,” he said.
Schluterman thinks bids this time will come in under $13 million.
The Logan County Quorum Court’s Jail Committee unanimously approved revised plans for the new jail in September. The jail will be built on county property on South Lowder Road in Paris. That decision cleared the way for construction managers to begin preparing bid packages and then soliciting bids for the project. Circle M Construction of Ratcliff is managing the project.
Thursday, bids will be opened separately for every facet of the construction and furnishing of the jail. There will be separate bids on everything from concrete to security systems, cells, to kitchen equipment. Once the bids are opened, architects and the construction manager will get together, sift through the bids and come up with a total costs.
Of course, all of this has caused a delay in construction, which hasn’t pleased everyone.
“Bids will be opened this time,” Schluterman said. “I’m not in favor of any more delays. People are starting to wonder if we’re ever going to build it. On the other hand, we have to be careful with other people’s money.”