SEMINOLE, Texas — The first phase of construction, which included the foundation and walls, of the new jail in Seminole is underway. Construction broke ground in August and is expected to be complete in July 2015.
Apart from a few minor, weather-related delays, construction is basically on schedule, project supervisor Chad Montgomery, of Sedalco Construction Services, told the Seminole Sentinel. San Antonio-based DRG Architects designed the $8.14 million facility, while Fort Worth, Texas-based Sedalco Construction Services is serving as the construction manager at-risk on the project.
Last December, Gaines County Commissioners approved the concept design of the proposed 72-bunk jail facility, which will include office spaces for the Gaines County Sheriff’s Department and Gaines County Emergency Operations Center, as well as the construction of an exterior shell of the jail facility for the potential future expansion of 24 additional bunks. The 30,000-square-foot facility is being built east of the current facility, the 32-bed Gaines County Law Enforcement Center.
The 72-bunk facility will feature three separate housing areas, with 40 beds occupying the main inmate holding area, as well as 16 to 18 separate beds which would accommodate female housing. Kitchen and laundry services for the facility would be able to accommodate up to 150 inmates without any renovations or structural changes if future expansion of the facility occurs, reported the Seminole Sentinel.
The facility is designed as a structure within a structure. A fully enclosed building, including the full-service kitchen as well as the medical area, will house inmates. Another enclosed structure will surround the smaller building and will provide space for inmate recreation as well as the heating and air conditioning system. The facility is being constructed with reinforced concrete walls and ceilings, and will meet the current codes of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
Before the new jail could be built, The Texas Commission of Jail Standards had to approve the justifications for needing the larger facility, Montgomery told the Seminole Sentinal, and four or five regulatory officers will inspect the jail during construction and after completion.
Because of limited space in the older jail, some of the Gaines county’s inmates are currently housed in four other counties, which costs the county about twice as much as if they were able to house them in the county.
The new jail has been planned for years and is a response to the county’s growing population. Once the new jail is opened, the Gaines County Law Enforcement Center will not be torn down, however. Instead, the space will be used for other city and county related purposes.
The new facility is paid for by funds saved by the county. To fund the project, Gaines County Commissioners adopted a 36.1102-cent per $100 valuation maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate, which came in just short of the county’s established rollback rate for FY 2014, reported the Seminole Sentinal. The county M&O rate, which is anticipated to generate more than $22.2 million in total tax revenues for the county, including a projected $2 million in funds, is anticipated to be generated for the county’s General Projects Fund. County leaders said the fund totaled roughly $5.5 million back in September 2013.