Ground being prepped for jail pod

Candy Neal/The Herald
Crews and machines work on the land that will house a new security center jail pod.

BY CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

JASPER — Space has been cleared behind the Dubois County Security Center and the land is being prepped for the new jail pod.

Workers are marking off space for the pod, pouring footings, taking care of any underground work and shoring up the land. They have also moved the communications tower away from the existing buildings to allow space for planned additions that will be constructed.

The renovation and expansion work to the security center and Dubois County Community Corrections building is being done in phases, with the goal of everything being completely done in the next two to three years.

“It’s a phased process, which is the most efficient way to get everything done and keep the buildings (security and corrections centers) operational,” said Les Smith of Shireman Construction and manager of this construction project. “They can’t shut down.

That phasing takes quite a bit of monitoring and coordinating.

“It stretches the project out because of the phasing,” Smith said. “You know, we got to do this. And then we gotta move them over there. And then we go back, and then go back. It's just a lot of juggling.”

The current work of preparing the land also includes attaching a new building to the existing security center, which will become the kitchen, Smith said. A section of the current building will also be remodeled and added to the kitchen. A new, larger medical area will be also be done. And a short road leading to the kitchen will be constructed, for food services.

Meanwhile the building pieces and cells that will become the jail pod are being constructed elsewhere in a plant. Once completed, they will be brought to the site this fall. Work crews will then put them together and secure them to the site.

Candy Neal/The Herald
Construction crews have been working behind the Dubois County Security Center and Dubois County Community Corrections Center to get the land ready for a new jail pod.

“They're making the parts at the plant, and that will be hauled here,” Smith said. “There will be 20 or more truckloads of steel and roofing and siding and insulation. The crews here will actually be constructing the building here on site. But all the components are being fabricated in a plant.”

Other functions for the pod, like utilities, mechanical areas, concrete work and plumbing will also need to be installed and connected.

“They build and design these buildings for the angle of vision,” Smith said, "where an officer can stand in one spot and see everything. There are not corners or places where people can step back and hide. It is safer for the inmate, safer for the staff, and operates more efficiently.”

Once the jail pod is in, the security center inmates will be moved to the new pod. And then some remodeling will be done in the existing center so that community corrections residents and staff can move in. They will stay in the security center while the community corrections facility is renovated. That includes additions constructed on the front and side of the building as well as remodeling inside the existing part of the facility. The changes will make the building layout more efficient and give staff the additional space needed for programming, Smith said.

“With the community corrections residents there,” he said, “with the amount of work that has to go on inside (the corrections) building, there's just no way that they stay there. We have to house them over there (in the existing security center).”

Once the renovations are done and the community corrections and staff are back in their building, work crews will work on remodeling the older parts of the security center for 911, EMA, sheriff’s office and security center facilities.

All of this work is looked at daily, and laid out and coordinated into a schedule to make sure every part gets done when it needs to be completed. Many parts overlap, which is why the coordination is vital.

“There's just a world of things that nobody realizes,” Smith said, “things we don't even realize until we get into it. A lot of stuff is happening at the same time, a lot of planning.”

But the work is going well, he said.

“We have a really, really good construction team here,” Smith said. “We have a lot of of local guys, guys we’ve worked with over the years. They know what they're doing; they’re good people and very competent.”

Improvements to the security center facilities have been discussed since 2017, when the Indiana Department of Correction told county officials to deal with the jail’s overcrowding problems. An assessment done later that year by the National Institute of Corrections found that several areas of the county justice system could be improved, including redesigning the facility and adding beds, having more programs to treat inmates’ substance abuse or mental and emotional problems, expanding and improving community corrections’ facilities and increasing staff. A local committee studied the county’s justice system in 2018 and a state-mandated feasibility assessment that was completed in 2019 came to similar conclusions.

For this project, Krempp Construction of Jasper was hired as the general trades contractor for $15,960,000, Harrell-Fish Inc. of Bloomingtonthe mechanical contractor for $6,848,848 and Weyer Electric the electrical contractor for $2,251,075.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com