Special called meeting discusses jail upgrade


A special called fiscal court meeting last week almost ended before it had a chance to begin when County Judge Executive Ann Melton decided information the court had requested was not available.

The meeting was held last Thursday to discuss an energy savings proposal to upgrade county facilities.

The original proposal included all county buildings and the judicial center, but Melton and the court had already determined they are only interested in a proposal for the jail, which is in dire need of repair.

Representatives from Perfection Group began the meeting pushing for a proposal that included upgrades to the judicial center along with the jail. While the county is reimbursed for costs at the judicial center from the state, the savings would be real, Perfection Group president Tony Apros said.

Melton was not interested.

“That’s a state building and if they want to do that, it’s up to them to do that,” she said.

Melton asked more than once to only hear a report on the jail.

“We asked you that and we are wasting our time today if we don’t have those figures,” she said.

Finally, numbers were adjusted and the group began addressing a proposal concerning the jail. The project would include lighting, heat and air, and water conservation systems, including controlled timing on showers.

The proposal also included an upgrade of 12 shower stalls, an improvement added to the project at the request of the court. During the conversation, however, members of the court decided they could have the shower upgrades done locally and avoid paying prevailing wage.

The court also decided to remove the repairs of a water heater in the project after determining they could purchase a new one for less.

“If we can buy one for $3,600 why would we want to pay $10,000 to fix the old one,” Judge Melton said.

The jail project, taking out the shower upgrade and the water heater, would cost $352,000 and would include a guarantee of $8,400 in energy savings a year.

The county has been approved for a $100,000 grant and Perfection Group will make sure the grant is still available if the county just approves the jail upgrades and does not include other facilities.

“We are very interested but we are only interested in what we can afford. The jail is the most critical,” Melton said.

The meeting, which was held in the storage room in the basement of the annex because the meeting room was not available, included lengthy discussion by several magistrates and numerous questions. Joe Rogers and Billy Coffey served on a committee that reviewed the proposal. Daryl Flatt obviously spent time reviewing the rather large proposal and asked numerous questions of the three representatives from the Perfection Group.

The court gave first reading to an ordinance approving a bond issue at its regularly monthly meeting last week in case members decided to approve the project. Melton asked Perfection representatives for some final figures and the board is expected to make a final decision at the February board meeting.By Sharon Burton


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