Work on jail improvements could start next month


JASPER — Work on a new jail pod at the Dubois County Security Center could start mid-May, if bond sales financing is in place by then.

That would start the long-worked-on plans for renovating the county security center, adding a jail pod to the center and expanding the Dubois County Community Corrections building.

Bonds to help fund the work could be put up for sale at the beginning of May. If that happens, money from those could “be in the bank by the 17th of May,” Construction Manager Mark Shireman told the Dubois County Commissioners on Monday.

The commissioners selected contractors for the work, pending the completion of the bond sales. Krempp Construction of Jasper will be the general trades contractor for $15,960,000, Harrell-Fish Inc. of Bloomington the mechanical contractor for $6,848,848 and Weyer Electric the electrical contractor for $2,251,075.

“We can’t award bids if we don’t have money. We can’t sign contracts when we can’t pay them,” Commissioners President Chad Blessinger said. “It’s highly likely that the bond sale will proceed as needed, and that the money will be here."

They also selected Old National Bank to act as as a trustee, registrar and paying agent. Old National’s fee of $18,400 covers 20 years of work; there is no wire fee.

By announcing the contractors they are selecting, the contractors can now prepare for the upcoming project. “It's just a step forward in progressing,” Blessinger said, “to tell them, ‘We plan to go with you. We just have to wait for the money to make it official.’”

The total of the three contractors’ bids was $1.3 million lower than what engineers had estimated, Shireman said. He also pointed out that two of the contractors selected are from Dubois County.

“Around 75% of that money is with local folks here, with Weyer and Krempp, which we're really happy about that,” Shireman said, “keeping the money local.”

Improvements to the security center facilities have been actively worked on 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.

Once the funding is in place, construction of the jail pod and additions to the community corrections facility will start first, with some minor work starting on the security center itself, Shireman said.

“When the pod gets finished,” he said, “we’ll move people over into the pod. Then we'll move people from community corrections over into the sheriff's area. And then [there will be the] remodeling [of] community corrections and then remodeling [of] the jail. So there's a lot of moving parts, but we have a plan.”

There will be a lot of moving people around in the construction process. “That was what we had to do,” Shireman said, “unless we're going to move people to another county and pay millions of dollars [of] rent.”

Shireman said there are some steps being worked on before construction will start, including permitting and double checking utilities.

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