The courtroom that was recently removed from plans for a new county jail to save money is back.
Logan County Judge Ray Gack and County Sheriff Boyd Hicks said the courtroom is back on the table because of requests from business people and Hicks’ concerns about transporting prisoners to court. Court is now held in the Logan County Courthouses in Paris and Booneville.
The jail was removed from the plans after initial bids on building a new 100-bed jail and sheriff’s office in Paris came in at $13.8 million, $800,000 more than the county has to spend and $3.8 million more than what Gack has promised to spend, which is $10 million. A second story was also removed from the jail after the initial bids were opened. Gack recently said the changes have brought the cost estimate for the project to $10.9 million.
“I had several phone calls about putting the courtroom back in,” Gack said last week.”So, we’re going to look at the courtroom as an alternate bid. The people that have contacted me said if the courtroom costs a little more, it will be worth it.”
Gack added that most of the calls he’s received have been from business people concerned about parking in Paris and Booneville on days court is in session.
“When we have court, they can’t find parking for their customers,” Gack said. “If we can afford to do it, it will help businesses.”
“A courtroom was one of the main things I wanted to begin with,” Hicks said.
Hicks added that having a courtroom inside the facility cuts the need to have deputies transport prisoners, avoids the risk to deputies and the public in transporting prisoners and alleviates concerns about parking in Paris and Booneville.
“Everybody I’ve talked to is in favor of having a courtroom at the jail,” Hicks said.
Hicks said a rough estimate to build a courtroom at the jail would be “in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $400,000.”
Gack said it will take four to six weeks to draw up new plans, advertise for bids and open bids.
“Hopefully, we can start building by Sept. 1.,” he said.
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 finance the project and provide money for maintenance and operation. The tax receipts will allow issuing up to $13 million in bonds to build and maintain a new facility. In November, $10 million in bonds were sold.
The jail is being built on county-owned property on South Lowder Street in Paris. Construction is anticipated to take up to two years.