County commissioners sign off on maximum price

Local News
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After voters approved a $70- million dollar bond a year ago, Wichita County commissioners have signed off on the maximum price for a new Law Enforcement Center and jail.

The population here at the jail continues to rise and that’s one of the reasons county leaders say they’re excited for next week’s groundbreaking of the new Law Enforcement Center. And, they made it official by voting unanimously to approve the final just over $62- million price tag for the facility itself.

The process of building a new Law Enforcement Center and jail continues. Work will begin immediately upon signing of the contract amendment. County Judge Woody Gossom says the new center is necessary and will take the place of one of the last caged-jail facilities in the state.

“The facility downtown, the newest part of it is 1985. And some of it is even earlier than that was built and opened in 1965. In fact that part of it when we shut this down most likely the ’65 addition is going to be decommissioned,” Judge Gossom said. 

The new Law Enforcement Center will house the sheriff’s office. Wichita County Commissioner Precinct 1 Mark Beauchamp says the new facility will help with safety.

“All of the statistics show in every facility like that. The safety of the officers increased actually. Instances of inmate on inmate violence and inmate to officer violence go way down,” Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp says they had to make some changes to their original plans.

“What we decided to do was not complete one of the pods but leave it open. Go ahead construct it and build it but not fill it in with the detention equipment. That way we can meet our future needs. We can look at what our needs our 10-15 years from now,” Beauchamp said. 

Beauchamp and Judge Gossom both know it has been a long process but are ready to get started and get this project complete.

Judge Gossom says the construction company hopes to have the new Law Enforcement Center complete by August of 2020. The groundbreaking day for these projects is December 11 at 3:00 p.m. 

Beauchamp says the other almost $8 million will be used for architecture engineering testing and things like moving expenses, some kitchen and laundry equipment along with some furniture.

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