Carter County committee to recommend approval of $1 million jail HVAC replacement project
Published 4:06 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2022
BY ROBERT SORRELL
The Carter County Building and Grounds Committee approved a motion Tuesday night to send a $1 million air conditioning replacement project at the county jail to the Budget Committee for additional consideration.
The heating and cooling system at the county jail, which was constructed about a decade ago, is barely affecting large portions of the facility, Sheriff Mike Fraley said. In fact, parts of the jail are not being cooled or heated at all, including a section where federal inmates were previously housed. It could be difficult to bring federal inmates back to the county jail, if negotiations were to be made in the future, the sheriff said.
Fraley and Mayor Patty Woodby said the jail has been very warm this year. Back in September, Fraley said the temperatures in parts of the jail reached 85 degrees. That makes it difficult for both inmates and corrections officers, Fraley said.
Woodby said the total cost to replace the heating and cooling system for the jail is $988,038. A third of the cost, or about $271,197, would be covered by federal COVID-19 funding.
The county would be left to cover $726,841. In addition, the county would have to pay about $50,000 for a company to develop bidding specs, Woodby said. That company that develops the specs would not be able to bid for the larger project.
The committee unanimously approved a motion to send the project to the Budget Committee, which would consider funding.
Commissioners also discussed the need for a permanent location for the county’s records and archives. Currently, the county’s records are stored in several locations, including the Workforce Development Complex, according to County Historian Lisa Germaine.
The state plans to use the Workforce Development Complex for an educational center, but the county is being allowed to continue to use the space for records storage until a solution can be made, Woodby said.
The county has been discussing establishing a permanent archives for years, and has considered various locations across the county.
Recently, the county has considered moving the archives into the first floor of the old county jail, where the sheriff’s office administration is currently located. Plans to renovate the building and transform it into a viable archives are in the works, Woodby said. The sheriff’s office would move upstairs.
The cost to renovate the old jail may be too much, which led committee members to discuss other options, including vacant school buildings and other county property.
Committee member Nick Holder recommended constructing a metal building on land the school board is buying in Hampton.
The committee also discussed housing the archives in another temporary location, but Germaine said that option could be detrimental for the records, which could be damaged or lost.
The committee made no motion regarding the archives.
Woodby also shared news with the committee that the owner of State Line Drive-In on U.S. Highway 19E recently approached her about closing and selling the facility to the county. The property’s owner told Woodby the site was appraised about five years ago for $640,000.
The mayor said the county currently does not have any available property for industrial development and the four-acre site could be very desirable.
Before purchasing property, the county is required to conduct an appraisal before considering a purchase.
The Health and Welfare Committee also met Tuesday. Members unanimously approved a motion to replace and add AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, to the county courthouse. Four AEDs would be updated and six AEDs would be added. The project could be funded by grants.