For Sheriff Mike Heaton and the staff at the Clay County Jail, the time has finally come.
Granted, Heaton won't complete the move into the facility and the accompanying training until mid- to late-March. Some minor glitches still need to be resolved, and a few items on the architect's "punch list" remain unpunched.
But when the Clay County Board of Commissioners signed off on a certificate of substantial completion-- an agreement with contractor Hannig Construction stating that the project is more-or-less finished-- ownership of the jail was officially transferred from Hannig to the county.
"It's our building now," Heaton said. "For all practical purposes, the building is ours."
The commissioners' signatures on the substantial completion form represent the end of the arduous process of planning and constructing the state-of-the-art facility. Clay County Commissioner Daryl Andrews estimated the final cost of the jail at nearly $11 million, only slightly exceeding the original bid of $10.5 million.
The Brazil Times reported Aug. 2, 2004, that Hannig Construction had set up shop at the future site of the jail. At the time, Hannig predicted the project would be completed in 18 months. While the construction process has seen minor delays, Andrews congratulated Hannig for completing the jail in a timely and cost-effective manner.
"They've gone above and beyond what the contract required, and have absorbed several thousand dollars of construction costs in an effort to bring this project in below budget," he said.
Andrews said the architectural firm that designed the jail also applauded Hannig's handling of the project.
"The greatest compliment came from (jail designers) Schenkel Schultz," he said. "They said working with Hannig on the Clay County Jail has been the smoothest jail project they've worked on."
The personnel who will staff the jail, meanwhile, have already begun to move in. Heaton said the cold case team and several detectives are using the administrative portion of the building while crews work to fine tune the phone systems in the facility.
"There's a lot of things that have to be coordinated," he said.
Heaton said he has not yet decided when he will transfer prisoners from the old facility to the new-- the date and time will not be announced in advance due to security concerns-- but indicated everything would be in place by the time they arrived.
"They're the last thing to go," he said.