Carroll County Commissioners heard from principal Elevatus Architecture's Greg Wehling about options for a new jail at the Monday, March 21, meeting. Wehling provided three building options for Steve Pearson, Bill Brown and Loren Hylton to consider.

The architect advised that to get to the building stage of the project, available money beyond what is bonded will make an impact on what can be built. He said commissioners should make decisions about which funding streams, additional to bond money, will be identified before finally deciding on the project plan. He said the bids going out will have to include alternates, to make what is built and the amount of money the county can afford, to match.

“All of those things (soft costs) go a long way to what can be afforded,” Wehling advised.

Pearson suggested the number of rooms for sheriff’s department administration could be reduced and 911 dispatch could remain in the current jail location. He said if 911 does not move, there would be no reason to purchase a new communication tower for approximately $500,000. However, he said he wants deputies to be located at the new facility.

Wehling provided preliminary designs for three plans. Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said he had not looked at the plans before the Monday meeting.

Wehling suggested commissioners form a small committee to work through some of the “particulars” of the design with the architects to help with communication amongst themselves and with the county council.

“It’s about – do we have the money to do this jail, not about the council against the commissioners,” Council member Tracy Martin stated.

Brown said he “has a lot of problems with a committee.” He said he thinks there should be a work session for the commissioners, the council and others, including the sheriff, to determine the design of the jail. He said it is imperative commissioners must know what the plan chosen will cost before going forward with a project.

“I still have problems with the whole process,” Brown said. “But, it’s getting clearer.”

Brown followed that statement with saying he still wants to cut ties with Elevatus. He said one reason is that Pearson suggested at one point that the new facility would have a basement. Brown said Elevatus refused to build a basement. Brown said modifications to plans could have been done 18 months ago, but Elevatus did not do that. He said he is haunted by doing the same things over (retaining Elevatus) again and expecting a different outcome.

Martin said the commissioners own some of the blame for what has happened because there was not one commissioner in the lead to work with Elevatus to bring the project to what the county needs and it can afford.

Council member Ethan Brown, son of Commissioner Brown, said he does not think Elevatus has followed the commissioners’ direction at all. He said Elevatus should be held accountable

Wehling advised that it was the commissioners, not Elevatus, who delayed progress. He said Carroll County cannot afford presented plans and a basement cannot be added to what cannot be afforded in the beginning – unless the commissioners want to pay more. He said he wants to keep his job, but the current economy plays a big part in the additional expected expense.

Hylton said Elevatus has done “what we’ve asked them to do.” He said he is not in favor of a committee. Hylton said he wants to build a facility that “will serve for a long time.”

Pearson said funding streams and their available amounts, including the American Rescue Plan Act funds available as well as the local income tax levied for a new jail and money the council has appropriated to a fund for a jail, could be determined by the April 4 meeting. He also said a date for a work session can be determined at the April 4 meeting.

“We can get this done by the end of April,” Pearson said.
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