Nolan County Jail to Debut in March

SWEETWATER, Texas — Construction continues on the new $12 million Nolan County jail and sheriff’s office in Sweetwater.

Like several other correctional facilities in the country, the new 36,000-square-foot jail will help alleviate jail-overcrowding issues in Nolan County. The old jail was located on the second floor of the Nolan County Courthouse. It had the capacity for 45 inmates, while the new jail will be able to hold 96. With the larger facility, the county will no longer have to transport inmates to nearby Mitchell County to be housed. This could also save the county money in the future, reported KTXS.

The old jail located inside the courthouse also had several issues that did not meet the Texas Commission of Jail Standards. The cells, for instance, were too small for compliance, and the corridors were so narrow that inmates can reach guards from their cells.

The new jail will be situated on 16 acres. The project’s architect, Bob Olson (working as a private contractor) of Plano, Texas, told KTXS that the new jail would be much safer than the current one, designed for maximum security throughout the entire facility. Dallas-based Turner Construction is serving as the construction manager at-risk.

The project will cost about $600,000 more than the amount approved by voters in the 2012 bond election. Nolan County voters passed propositions that allowed for $10 million for construction of the jail and $1.4 million for the sheriff’s office. The difference in the project cost will be paid for out of county funds.

Plans for the project began in 2011 when the Texas Commission on Jail Standards told county officials that the current facility needed improvements. The project was supposed to begin earlier, but money issues stalled the progress. Construction broke ground in December 2013 and is scheduled for completion in March 2015.

Voters also passed a measure in November 2012 that allowed $4 million for the renovation of the exterior of the Nolan County Courthouse, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. After a granite slab fell off the building’s facade, an inspection revealed the retainers that bind the granite slabs to the concrete needed a lot of work.