Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

September 13, 2007

Commissioners get maximum price of jail expansion

Hewlett says 96-bed pod could be built for $8.6 million

A new 96-bed jail addition will cost Cumberland County a guaranteed maximum price of $8,574,624.

Steve Hewlett of Hewlett Spencer, LLC gave county commissioners the figure Monday evening during a work session about the county jail expansion. If the county decides to go for the proposed full expansion at the Justice Center, Hewlett said the guaranteed maximum price for that would be $18,828,548.

"Through some of that valued engineering were were able to bring the figure down a little for a total savings of $768,000 on the total package," said Steve Hewlett of Hewlett Spencer, LLC.

The full expansion to the Justice Center would add four more courtrooms, all with space for jury trials, space for court clerks' offices and office space for two general sessions judges.

It also includes the 96-bed jail pod, and would provide secure transport for inmates from the jail portion of the building to courtrooms so inmates would not come in contact with the public or potential jurors.

Hewlett estimated the cost of the 96-bed pod construction alone to be around $6 million one year ago. Since then the cost has increased nearly 50-percent and some commissioners questioned the increase.

Hewlett told commissioners that due to the variety of major building projects going on or upcoming nearby in the state that it is very hard to get competitive, low bids on projects. He also explained that the rise in construction expenses and building materials over the past year has caused the various increases.

"It's not going to get any cheaper to wait to build your project. I wouldn't want to bet on that," Hewlett said.

"I have to question the whole process. There are some big increases on here and I just want to know why. You seem like a good guy and it's nothing personal against you, but I just don't believe that number. Not when there is a 96-bed facility being built in Jackson County for $5 million. I mean we are talking about a 40- to 50-percent difference," said 8th District Commissioner Jeff Brown.

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