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Jail construction is on schedule, workers say

Friday, March 18, 2005

Construction of the new Clay County Jail on Jackson Street is progressing on schedule.

The site has seen a dramatic transformation as the building has steadily grown from a muddy expanse of property to a solid structure.

"We're over 50 percent complete," Clay County Jail Project Clerk of the Works Gary Rodgers said. "We are 90 percent complete with the concrete."

In spite of 28 work days impacted by rain and low temperatures, Rodgers said he believes the crew of approximately 45 workers will be able to make up the lost time.

"We've been averaging in the 40s (number of workers). We get a lot done. Right now, we're concentrating on the inside. You have to maintain a certain temperature or the mortar won't set up," he said. "We just haven't had any problems at all. There's not much room for improvement."

Erecting the walls enables electricians, carpenters and other laborers to further work on the inside of the building. Laying up insulation and subroofing is another task employees have been working on, ensuring a proper fit with the metal deck. A submembrane will allow for waterproofing and ultra-violet protection to impede premature deterioration. An aluminum store front and windows are set to be installed in the next several weeks. A vacuum waste-removal system will be a new addition to the jail site.

"That's our fancy septic system. They're ready for it now," he said. "They're chomping at the bit to get it done."

Traffic on Jackson Street may have to be temporarily reduced to one lane or closed briefly.

"We opened it ahead of schedule. The Mayor asked and we complied. I'm sure we can cooperate with the city," said Rodgers. "The Mayor's been very cordial to work with."

Vandalism has not been a problem, which likely has something to do with the site's proximity to the existing jail and courthouse.

The AIRVAC septic system, which Rodgers compared to an airplane septic system, will be much more convenient to operate. It will be easily accessible to prevent any damage to the building to reach pipes, and it will be emptied in the "wee hours of the morning" to prevent overloading the city's system.

The walls will be almostsolid concrete. Wire mesh is embedded along with security rebar, (reinforcing bar). Holes in the concrete blocks are filled with mortar.

"It would take a long time to chisel through that wall," he said.

Overcrowding has become a wide-spread problem among jails in various counties as drugs and domestic violence problems have arisen.

Lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union and Indiana Civil Liberties Union in many areas have also increased due to overcrowding problems.

"It's kind of a common problem. All the county jails anymore are too small," Rodgers said.

Former Sheriff Rob Carter emphasized the new jail will be a good neighbor to the community, and praised the efforts of those involved in the jail's progress and construction.

"I think that Gary (Rodgers), along with Hannig Construction, have done an impeccable job," he said. "The building is remarkably solid. The quality is unmatched.

"The county taxpayers are definitely getting their money's worth. There's a lot of people that need to be in jail, and they're going to be there finally."

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