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Supervisor shares frustration over Floyd County Law Enforcement Center delays

Supervisor shares frustration over Floyd County Law Enforcement Center delays
The intake and booking area is where all detainees will be first brought in the new Floyd County Law Enforcement Center, to answer questions, have personal items collected and to be classified as to what type of cell pod they should be placed in. Press photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

The new Floyd County Law Enforcement Center had originally been planned to be finished and ready for the Sheriff’s Office and jail detainees to move into in December — December 2020.

COVID-19 supply problems and other delays pushed that back to the spring of 2021. Then the summer. Then it was the fall.

Now, there’s hope that the move can be made yet this year, or at least around the first of next year.

“I would be happy if it’s the beginning of the year, that we can start the new year out right. I’m almost at that point,” said Floyd County Supervisor Linda Tjaden.

Tjaden has been the supervisor most directly involved in the day-to-day workings of the project ever since she led a citizens committee in 2017 that made a recommendation to her fellow supervisors to proceed with building the new LEC and doing courthouse updates.

At a supervisors board meeting Tuesday afternoon and later talking to the Press, she expressed how exasperating the delays have been.

“This holdup is ridiculous. We are totally all frustrated. Those inmates should have been over there well before now,” she said at the meeting.

The latest holdup, that has dragged the project out for extra months, is the lack of response from one of the subcontractors, Sweeper Metal Fabricators Corp. of Drumright, Oklahoma, Tjaden said.

Sweeper received the bid for detention equipment and security electronics, but so far has not delivered all the cell doors and some other less important but still necessary items such as chairs that swivel out for use in a couple of handicapped-accessible cells, some detention grab bars, shower tracks and shower curtains, bed ladders and other items.

“There have been a lot of delays with Sweeper. They have not been responsive. Every time that we call them and say, ‘hey, we’re needing this to be completed,’ they’re not responsive, and it’s been very frustrating,” Tjaden said.

The county sent a letter to Sweeper listing the specific items still required to be installed and demanding that action be taken.

All the missing items are designed specifically to go with the other parts of the cells supplied by Sweeper, and so can’t be substituted with other off-the-shelf items, Tjaden said.

“If they’re not being responsive we need to do something. We need to take a course of action. … We’re about ready to get an attorney involved,” she said at the board meeting Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Tjaden said Sweeper had been in contact and said an installer would be on the site on Monday to finish the remaining items. Some of the items were delivered Wednesday, and the expectation is that the installer will bring the rest of the items Monday, Tjaden said.

Once all the detention and security features are installed and operational, the jailers can complete training on the new equipment and the state’s chief jail inspector, Delbert Longley, can inspect the site and certify it ready for occupancy.

Chief Deputy Pat Shirley, the Sheriff’s Office liaison on the LEC project, has said that the training and certification will take about two weeks, but whether Longley will be able to get here quickly around the holidays is unknown.

Asked if just parts of the jail could be used while other parts are awaiting finishing, Tjaden said Shirley has said Longley won’t certify it until it’s complete.

“Pat’s indicating that Delbert’s been burned on other projects,” Tjaden said, where he had been told something would be finished later, then it never was.

“From his perspective he wants to see everything complete before he will hand over the key,” she said.

The delay in being able to move into the LEC is frustrating, but it’s also causing problems with the next phase of the project, the updates on the courthouse, which includes all new windows, new heating and air conditioning tied into the system in the LEC, fire suppression sprinklers and some other changes.

The current county jail and Sheriff’s Office are located on the top floor of the courthouse, and Tjaden said the subcontractors working on the courthouse project want to start there and work their way down, but can’t do that until it’s empty.

Tjaden said with the delays, some of the subcontractors have stopped attending regular planning sessions, and that has also been frustrating, because they’re not looking at ways to do some work in the courthouse while the LEC is being finished.

“We’ve had coordination meetings talking about the courthouse renovation for weeks. We say every subcontractor needs to be participating in some of those and they’re not,” she said.

“I tell you, I’ve managed projects before in my life. This one has been the most challenging. When you are so tied to so many different people, businesses, material, throw COVID in there — when it becomes outside your control that’s when it gets most frustrating,” Tjaden said.

“There are things that can get done, but we need the people at the table. We’re having another coordination meeting on Monday, and I told Samuels we need participation by every subcontractor and they need to be in there and I want them prepared when they come to that meeting with what their ideas are, not brainstorming during that meeting,” she said.

Tjaden was referring to Sid Samuels, owner of The Samuels Group, the county’s construction manager on the project.

“People all just want to see this thing proceed and get done, too,” Tjaden said. “The citizens of our county are just as frustrated as we are. We need to show them that we’ve completed this project and it’s moving forward. So it’s up to us to make sure that happens.”

Also Tuesday, the board approved the recommendation for new county voting precincts made by the Temporary Redistricting Committee. The board set a public hearing for 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, in the boardroom at the courthouse to hear public comments on the precinct recommendations. After the public hearing the board will likely have the first reading of the ordinance that would make the precincts official.

A public hearing on the ordinance will likely be set for Dec. 28, after which the second and possibly final reading of the ordinance would take place.

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