Bids were opened last week on construction of a new, 100-bed county jail and sheriff’s office in Paris. Bids were taken on 30 facets of the construction project — everything from cells, concrete work, security and fire suppression features, heating and air conditioning systems, communication equipment down to the dishes and kitchen utensils.

If you are looking for a final cost estimate based on bids, stop. That number doesn’t exist yet, according to County Judge Ray Gack.

“I don’t know the total,” Gack said after the bid opening, which took place on Thursday, May 18 at the Logan County Courthouse in Paris. “It’s over budget slightly but there are a lot of places where we can make adjustments. Bids were a little higher than what we anticipated.”

Gack said it might be as much as three weeks before a total is known.

“Right now, they are going over the bids and qualifying the bidders,” Gack said. “As soon as they get that done, we’re going to have a jail committee meeting and see where we’re at. They said it could be two or three weeks. It could be quicker than that but I could be wrong.”

Sifting through the bids is Circle M Construction Management, Inc. of Ratcliff, the manager of the project.

The county is building a new jail because the present facility, located on Grober Street in Paris and built in the 1980s, has consistently been cited for violations of jail standards, ruled overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe.

Last July, voters approved a 1 percent increase in county sales taxes to build and maintain a new facility, to be built on South Lowder Road in Paris. Voters approved the issuance of up to $13 million in bonds to finance construction, maintenance and operation. Gack believes the facility can be built for $10 million.

Bonds were sold last November.

“I thought some of the bids came in a little high,” Gack said. “But I also thought some of the bids were cheap. I want it done for $10 million and I really think we can do that.”

Preparation work on the South Lowder Street site has been underway since late last year. Gack has said he hopes the facility can be completed in a couple of years.

As for the existing facility, Gack said he hopes in can be sold with proceeds being applied to retirement of the bond issue for the new jail.

“That will be up to the Quorum Court,” Gack said. “I’d just as soon sell it but we may need to keep it for storage space.”