A research committee, formed by the Clay County Community Corrections Board, met Thursday to discuss potential plans to construct new buildings on the lot where the old Clay County Jail currently sits, once it is torn down.
Since the Clay County Justice Center opened in 2006, there have been numerous discussions about tearing down the old jail, and the committee is in the preliminary stages of planning construction on two possible new buildings.
One of the buildings would contain the employees and operations of Clay County Community Corrections, while the other would serve as additional storage for evidence collected in investigations by the Clay County Sheriff's Department, along with an area designated for maintenance on county equipment.
Clay County Commissioner Charlie Brown informed the committee he has gathered a rough estimate on the cost of constructing the storage/maintenance building.
"I talked with Graber Post Buildings, and it would cost approximately $170,000 to construct a building that would satisfy ours and the sheriff's department's needs," he said.
Community Corrections Director Mary Brown said with its building needing to meet proper regulations to allow public access, the cost would be higher. She also provided a rough sketch she created of the potential building, which would take up approximately 2,900 square feet of space.
"Right now, we have about $160,000 available in our project income budget," she said. "However, the Indiana Department of Correction does not like it when we have more than $100,000 in project income."
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said the lot the old jail currently sits on is approximately 120-feet wide and 200-feet long.
"Based on this drawing, the two buildings could be on the lot, including the 15 feet that must separate them," he said.
In discussing the potential cost of the Community Corrections building, the committee used an estimated price of $100 per square foot, meaning the total expense of the two buildings would approach $500,000.
For Thursday's meeting, the committee invited Economic Development Specialist Jim Coffenberry to inquire about the process of procuring funding for a public works project.
Coffenberry said since the Clay County Auditor manages grants for Community Corrections, the projects would most likely have to be bid out at one time, with each building being considered its own division.
"However, with Community Corrections being a state agency, we should also check to see if there is a separate set of procurement guidelines," he told the committee. "Also, the county would need to contact an architect about creating designs, which would help in setting full bid specifications."
Coffenberry added there is the potential the county could apply for funding through the United States Department of Agriculture's Community Facilities Program, which provides long-term loans and has a current interest rate of about 4.3 percent.
"This could help the county spread out the payments a little bit rather than completely draining funding in case you need it for immediate needs that may come up," he said.
Clay Circuit Court Judge Joe Trout said the basis of funding for Community Corrections could play a big part in paying for its building.
"That's the beauty of Community Corrections," he said. "The department is self-supporting and paid by the inmates in the program themselves as they serve the terms of their sentences."
It was agreed the next steps to be taken are to contact an architect, preferably local if possible, to create drawings, along with marking off where current utility lines are on the property and gather a more accurate rough estimate for the entire project in order to gauge if it is possible.
Coffenberry, who will contact the USDA office in Bloomfield, told the committee it should also provide the Phase 1 and 2 environmental assessments of the old jail and grounds to the architect, as it is an important part of completing this type of project.
Also participating in Thursday's meeting were Clay County Council member Brian Wyndham, Clay County Information Services Director Scott Hill and Attorney Jason Brown.