Construction on the addition to the Anderson County Jail could begin as soon as mid-January, a Weatherford-based architect told Anderson County commissioners Monday.

Architect Armand Fisher and Jeff Pittman of SEDALCO Construction Services both spoke about the jail construction schedule and estimated cost during the court’s regular monthly meeting.

Last May, Anderson County voters overwhelmingly approved a $9.95 million bond election designed to essentially construct a new jail around the existing facility on East Lacy Street.

The two phase project’s total estimated cost is currently $9.2 million, according to Pittman, who added that that estimate included expected price increases for materials such as steel and fuel.

Meanwhile, Fisher said the projected start date on Phase I of the project is presently Jan. 16, with inmates expected to be able to temporarily occupy what will ultimately be the facility’s kitchen by June 7.

Fisher said the temporary housing area would consist of four “cells,” with three of those housing 12 inmates and the fourth housing 14 for a total capacity of 50.

“We’ve designed it so you can get 50 beds within six months and start using those,” Fisher told commissioners.

Anderson County is currently paying $42 per day per inmate to house some of its prisoners outside the county. When the temporary housing area is completed, county officials have expressed hope that most — if not all — of the county’s inmates can be housed locally.

On Monday, Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said his agency was housing 40 inmates outside the county.

Fisher said the temporary cells would be utilized “for probably close to a year” before some of the permanent cells are ready for occupancy.

Construction in the second and final phase of the jail project is targeted for a March 22, 2006 start and a June 2007 completion.

When fully completed, the Anderson County Jail will have slightly more than 300 beds, with the new construction encompassing approximately 45,700 square feet.

“The design of the jail includes the (approximately 200) beds,” Fisher said. “It gets you a new sallyport and a new jail.”

The jail’s lobby and visitation areas will both be relocated as a result of the expansion, he added.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Darrell Emanuel asked Pittman about the possibility of the project exceeding the current $9.2 million estimate, with the latter answering he could not “rule it out.

“The market right now is very volatile as far as fuel costs and steel prices,” said Pittman, making mention of the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “It’s to everyone’s benefit if we lock down our numbers as soon as possible.”

Upon final court approval, Pittman said his company will begin purchasing steel and other materials in an effort to beat any potential price hikes.

At the conclusion of the comments by Fisher and Pittman, Anderson County Judge Carey McKinney asked for a motion to approve preliminary jail plans to be submitted to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Emanuel, however, questioned the wording of the agenda item, saying he did not believe it allowed the court to vote on such a motion.

“It should have said consider,” McKinney acknowledged. “We probably need to put that on our next agenda.”

The item is expected to be placed on the court’s next agenda, likely within the next six-to-eight days.

In other business Monday, the court:

• APPROVED reports from various county officials.

• APPROVED reduction of speed limit to 30 miles per hour on CR 2231.

• APPROVED extending comp time for Dogwood Trails Narcotics Task Force to March 31, 2006.

• APPROVED resolution supporting grant for Dogwood Trails Narcotics Task Force.

• APPROVED extending comp time for Anderson County tax office and district clerk’s office until Dec. 31.

• ACCEPTED order setting the annual salary of the Anderson County auditor at $66,976.

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