Jail buildings expected next month

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  The Carter County government's effort to build temporary jail housing units has cleared another hurdle.
  Members of the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to grant final site plan approval for construction of a temporary 96-bed jail facility on East Elk Avenue adjacent to the Carter County Courthouse Annex.
  "This will get everybody off the floor completely," said Brad Johnson, a County Sheriff's Department deputy appointed as a property representative for the jail expansion.
   The county government is under federal court order as part of a lawsuit settlement that included placing modular housing units at the jail to relocate over 90 inmates. The jail is only certified for over 90 inmate beds but averages over 200 inmates daily.
  Johnson said practically every square foot of the existing jail facility was carpeted with inmates lying shoulder to shoulder.
  "We are certified for 98 inmates," Johnson told the commission. "Today, we had 218 in there."
  State regulations permit a measure of population overflow in county jails. Johnson said the units would house inmates charged or convicted of misdemeanor offenses. He said neither inmates in state custody nor those charged with violent crimes would be housed in the temporary facilities.
  City Director of Planning David Ornduff said the city staff set forth seven demands - mostly pertaining to sewer line specifications and drainage around the property - expected from the project's contractor. He said the demands went to past sewage problems that had occurred at the jail as a result of inmates' actions.
  "The county has had quite of lot of problems with items placed into their sewer line," Ornduff said.
  Johnson advised city planners all seven requirements had been passed on to the contractor and approved by the County Commission.
  "The county has already issued change orders," Johnson said of the city's demands.
  Grading work on the site began in September shortly after the County Commission approved the county's 2005 fiscal year budget funding the expansion project. The lawsuit settlement also calls for a new, permanent jail to be constructed by 2007.
  The four modular unit structures comes in two pieces, each weighing over 20 tons. A crane lifts each section onto the building platform where they are attached together. One jailer and a video surveillance system will monitor each unit.
   Johnson said the first two units are scheduled for delivery and placement in mid-November with the last two units expected by late December. He also said the building contractor had 75 working days to complete construction. He also said the County Commission funded the structure as a temporary development until the permanent structure was completed.
   Commission members also voted 6-0 approving the preliminary development plat for the first phase of Heritage Subdivision developed by Richard Tetrick. The residential subdivision creates 16 lots for patio homes near the Golf Course Acres subdivision.
  Phase one entrance will be made at the access point of Woodland Drive in Golf Course Acres. Additional phases of the subdivision's development could add dozens of additional lot sites near the lower end of Gap Creek Road.
   In other business, the commission gave final site plan approval to the Trigg Enterprises for construction of a Bojangles Restaurant on West Elk Avenue. The restaurant will be constructed near the newly opened Captain D's restaurant.