Review of jail plans, specs on schedule


Custer County’s long-needed update of its jail and justice and law enforcement offices is on schedule, with county commissioners and sheriff’s department personnel meeting with Mike Stevenson of Stevenson Design, lead architect on the new detention center, to look over plans and specifications for everything from door locks to basketball hoops.

Stevenson showed commissioners and sheriff’s department officials the completed designs. Construction documents will be ready by mid-February, giving prospective contractors a month to look over the plans before submitting bids, which will be due in mid-March. A site walk-through will be scheduled for interested contractors so they can examine the site and get questions clarified.

Related bids, for asbestos removal and abatement and for two generators, are already in the works, with grants applied for to assist with funding both of these projects. The old generator must be removed, as well as the old fuel tank, as part of that project. 

In addition, gas and electrical lines that serve the current court house must be moved to provide for site clearance.

Total estimated cost for the project, including various contingencies, is $7,167,563. This does not include the asbestos and generator projects, which are being funded separately. A 20-year bond issue was approved in September to fund the project.

Work will begin with the removal of the old 1906 jail, which is currently closed and cannot be used for holding prisoners as it is so below modern safety and security requirements. The current garage attached to the old jail and an addition on the north side of the Senior Citizen’s Center also will be removed. The Center has given approval for demolition of the addition, which is used primarily for storage.

The current Emergency Operating Center will be substantially remodeled, and the ground-floor level that recently housed the Custer County Public Health Department will be gutted internally and completely remodeled.

The new detention center will be built on the site of the current jail and garage.

The completion date for Phase One of the project, which is the primary construction phase, is scheduled for February of 2015, with occupancy at that time. Weather and other factors may affect the project schedule. Phase Two will be completed, which will include landscaping and final inspection, later in 2015.

In addition to separate cells for women, men and juveniles, the new detention center will also have activity and program space for inmates to provide for exercise and other activities. The kitchen will not be fully equipped to produce meals for inmates, but space is planned for updating the kitchen at a later date if desired.

Other necessary improvements will be made to security and to provide handicap accessibility.

Remodeling will also take place in the courthouse and offices will be moved. The final assignment of offices to departments such as the Drug Task Force and Juvenile Probation has not yet been determined. 

There will be some minor modification of the plans as the need arises.

Stevenson said the time frame for letting bids means “we can get some good numbers.” He added that while many of the contractors in Billings are busy, this project should be large enough to attract a number of contractors from around the region.

There was also discussion of making sure the bidder chosen was experienced with this type of project. Stevenson suggested that bidders include, among their references, the last three detention projects that the contractor has worked on. State law requires the “lowest responsible bidder” be chosen, but a contractor with no detention experience might not be seen as meeting that requirement.