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New jail construction nearing completion

Monday, December 5, 2005

The construction of the new Clay County Jail is nearly complete, but prisoners won't be transferred from the old facility until sometime in mid-January, according to Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton.

Clerk of the Works Gary Rogers said he expects the architect's punch list, a comprehensive checklist encompassing every detail of construction, to be completed on or before Dec. 15. Jail staff must complete 30 days of training in the finished facility before prisoners can be transferred, Heaton said.

An initial timeline for the jail's construction listed a completion date of Oct.1, followed by a month of training and a Nov. 5 move into the facility. While the completion date has been pushed back and training in the facility is underway, Heaton said his department will still require a one-month window to train in the completed facility.

"Once it's done, we'll still have that same schedule," he said.

Rogers indicated that the sheriff's department could begin using the jail now, but several minor issues need to be resolved before the building is completely finished.

"From my point of view, the building is ready to move into," he said. "Everything works to the point we can open the doors, but we're still tweaking."

As crews rush to complete construction, members of the sheriff's department have already begun to train in the new facility, covering booking, meal service, prisoner transportation and other basic jail operations. The department enlisted reserve deputies and members of Clay City High School's Students Against Drunk Driving chapter to act as prisoners in the training scenarios.

"We've kind of had to train around some of the things they're still working on," Heaton said, "but it's going quite well."

Aside from some minor glitches in the jail's operation systems, Rogers said the remaining work is mainly aesthetic: "painting walls, sealing lights, touching up some (cosmetic) things that have happened during the course of construction."

Other impediments to Rogers and his crews have included minor glitches within the inmate phone system and a shipment of exterior glass which arrived broken.

"These are just minor things that every building goes through," he said. "We've got little issues, but nothing major."

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