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Will steel costs affect the new jail?

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Things have moved smoothly up until now, but rising steel prices may put the first true roadblock in the path of the Clay County jail.

In a 2 1/2-hour meeting yesterday, the Clay County Commissioners spoke to Dave Scholl, a representative of Shenkel-Schultz, the architectural firm behind the new jail. In his brief presentation, Scholl said that things are going fairly well, but issues with steel and construction costs may become apparent soon.

"We're working on an updated cost estimate as we speak," Scholl said. "Steel prices are high and could raise 30 to 50 percent soon. This could have a big impact on the jail's construction."

Scholl said the impending price hike could affect nearly everything involving the construction, steel cells and reinforcements for concrete being two of many foreseeable problems. He expressed concern for both Clay County and his company's other customers.

"Hopefully we won't have to make any major changes when time for construction comes," he said. President David Parr said that the news wasn't too much of a concern to him yet.

"I'm not too worried about it at this point," he said. "It seems like scrap metal prices always raise this time of year... We'll see what happens when the bids are let."

Talk of power washing the courthouse to make it match the new structure was also made. The jail, which will be around 200 feet from the courthouse, will be made of concrete, while the courthouse is made of limestone. The courthouse's color has changed over the years due to weather and other factors, while the jail's outside walls will be completely new. Scholl said that matching colors would not be a huge concern.

"If you look at that limestone, it's not really one uniform color," he said. "There are darker spots and lighter spots. We'll go over the available colors for the concrete, but it shouldn't be a problem."

Scholl also showed the Commissioners a drawing of the jail's front end, along with carpet and paint samples that will be implemented in its interior. The commissioners seemed pleased with the company's choices, which were mostly darker colors and earth tones.

Other topics discussed included:

- A blood drive to be held on July 9. Mark Evans received permission to use the courthouse for the drive on this date. He said that he hoped to have the Cattlemen's Association provide ribeye steaks at the event.

- The new lock system at the courthouse. Melanie Brown, of the Extension Office, said that employees in her office worked strange hours, and thus needed 24-hour access through the new computerized system. Parr referred her to IT Director Scott Hill, noting that every office head already has 24-hour access.

"We hope that the heads will use their discretion when giving hours," he said, referring to a tentative plan to let these heads dictate their own access hours.

- Grants for the Emergency Management Department. Emergency Management Director Gerri Husband said that her office had received a $2,500 dollar grant for the purchase of automatic external defibrillators. She said that these would be given to county police officers first, and given to additional departments as more became available.

Commissioner Daryl Andrews noted that extra funds may be available due to the appointments of Sally Zuel, Marion Schaffer, and Steve Bell to the Clay County Hospital Board. These new members will replace Dr. Lois Moss, Alan Hughes, and Aaron Royer, who resigned, respectively.

Additionally, Husband said that FEMA had recently given the county its reimbursements, thanks to the Commissioners.

"Because of your quick actions, we got the reimbursements," she said.

- County roads and ditches. Bob Bullard spoke to the Commissioners about possible regulations involving driveways, ditches, and county right-of-ways. The Commissioners told Bullard to work up a sample ordinance to review.

Additionally, an ordinance making the intersection of County Roads 550 South and 200 East a four-way stop was passed.

- County bridges. It was noted that bridges 149 and 170 needed work done, including widening.

"That bridge is a fatal accident waiting to happen," Andrews said, referring to 170. Transitional County Highway Supervisor Ron Chamberlain added that "someone's going to come down on us about our priority repair bridges some day". It was also noted that drawings for work on the bridge on Whiterock Road are being done.

- A new car for the County Veterans Service. Les Walden said that Mayor Tom Arthur had offered his branch a car for $1. The county, he said, would have to pay for plates and insurance on the vehicle should they choose to accept it. The Commissioners approved the purchase pending approval by the Clay County Council, something Councilman Les Harding said shouldn't be hard to obtain.

The Clay County Commissioners meet the first Monday of every month at 9 a.m. Their next meeting will be April 5. The public is invited.

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