Tulare County Approves Jail Contract

PORTERVILLE, Calif. — Tulare County Supervisors approved a $3.25 million contract with Sacramento, Calif.-based Vanir Construction Management Inc. to build the new $68 million South County Detention Facility in Porterville. Initial plans for the construction project have already been completed, and construction is scheduled to begin in May 2016 and finish in 2018.

Vanir Construction Management Inc. will oversee any architectural changes before building the 516-bed jail in Porterville, and then the company will oversee construction.

The 119,000-square-foot jail will be built on a 60-acre parcel of farmland, of which the jail will take up about 15 acres and the rest would be used for the future development of government buildings such as a sheriff’s sub station. The new jail facility will be one story tall and will include space for classrooms, counseling and training for inmates and convicted felons not being housed in jails. Like the county’s Bob Wiley Detention Facility, the new jail will include farmland with pens for hogs and cows, which will be part of a work-release program that teaches inmates how to raise food. As such, the facility will also have a butchering area and kitchen.

The cost of the jail will mostly be covered by a $60 million grant awarded to the county in 2012 as part of the state’s AB 900 Construction Financing Program. The county will be required to come up with a $10.1 million match, $7.42 million of which will be actual dollars while the rest would be in county staff work hours and other county resources used to develop the jail, John Hess, senior administrative analyst for the county told the Visalia Times-Delta.

The county changed construction plans back in 2012 when it was awarded a grant to build an additional jail north of Visalia. The county originally contracted Phoenix-based Kitchell Inc., but it has since paid the company for the work it had done and hired Vanir to take its place.

It has yet to be determined whether or not Vanir will oversee construction of the new north county jail, however, as the California Board of State and Community Corrections reduced the grant from $40 million to $33.3 million. Tulare County officials are currently waiting until August to see if the state budget will increase the grant back to $40 million. Until then, plans for the north county facility have been stopped.

Tulare County seems to be updating all of its justice facilities. In November 2013, the county debuted the new 96,000-square-foot South Justice Center, bringing the county space and amenities needed to accommodate the projected population growth in the Porterville area over the next 20 years. The new $93 million facility is more than 11 times the size of the previous Porterville facility. It consists of nine courtrooms, judges’ chambers, jury deliberation rooms, support services, clerks’ offices and work areas, public walk-up windows and queuing. A detainee holding area, with holding cells for 85 inmates, and a sally port were also included in the project.