By Aziza Jackson
GENEVA, Ala. — Geneva County commissioners have broken ground on a $9 million project to build a new jail.
WTVY reports that Montgomery, Ala.-based Bear Brothers Construction will serve as the general contractor for the project.
Construction is reportedly set to begin in early October and would take about 18 months to complete.
“It’s not about one person or anything,” said former Geneva Sheriff Greg Ward to WTVY. “It took so many people to make this happen. Sheriff Helms worked with me the whole 20 years I was here. It’s like I got it started, and he’s going to see it through, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
According to The Dothan Eagle, Montgomery-based JMR+H Architecture, on behalf of the Geneva County government, began soliciting bids for two portions of the jail construction project in early May.
Geneva County Commission Chairman and Probate Judge Fred Hamic reportedly said to The Dothan Eagle that the new jail would be constructed in a lot close to the current jail that is located behind the Geneva County Courthouse at the intersection of Alabama highways 52 and 27.
The current jail was constructed in 1963 and built to hold about 49 inmates. It reportedly averages about 100 inmates at any given time. To counter overcrowding issues, the county reportedly added two fiberglass outparcels several years ago.
Conditions at the current jail never reached the point of federal intervention, Hamic reportedly said, but federal officials “insinuated” changes were needed. Geneva County residents reportedly passed a 1-cent sales tax in 2014 to raise the funds for the new facility, and currently about $6 million of the projected $9 million in costs has been raised with the levy, Hamic said to The Dothan Eagle.
The rest of the costs will reportedly be covered with the sale of bonds.
The new jail will reportedly have some isolation cells for dangerous, sick or mentally unstable inmates. Several cells will also reportedly house one or two inmates each, while there will be some “barracks-type” rooms for 15 to 20 people, according to Hamic.
Reports from WTVY and The Dothan Eagle contributed to this story.