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Bids to be sought for new jail locks

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GREENFIELD — Jail locks several years past their life expectancy will be replaced, but only after county officials seek the best price.

The Hancock County Commissioners Tuesday decided to formally advertise for upgraded locks for each of the cell doors at the Hancock County Jail

While officials are not offering details on the reason for the new locks, they acknowledged the locks were past their life expectancy. They also said more needs to be done to regularly inspect local security facilities.

Officials said Tuesday that the locks have a useful life of 15 to 20 years. They were installed when the jail was built 24 years ago, in 1988.

“(The) building locks’ life expectancy is 20 years, but the building is substantially older than that,” Commissioner Brad Armstrong said.

Commissioners decided to hire DLZ, an engineering and architectural firm, at $5,250 to do a complete analysis of the county’s security facilities. That should take 60 to 90 days, but in the meantime, officials are also proceeding in buying the new locks.

Last week, the Hancock County Council agreed to a funding resolution as they brace to pay roughly $350,000 for upgrades. Crowder Detention of Carmel has offered a quote of $352,000, and Maj. Brad Burkhart said that may be the only company that can install the new locks. He questioned if the situation called for an emergency upgrade and whether the county should immediately hire Crowder for the job.

But county attorney Ray Richardson said because of the expense, a formal bidding process should be followed. Besides, he said, it will take just as long to gather quotes from other companies as it would to simply approve Crowder. The county council’s next meeting is Jan. 9, and if officials move quickly, they can seek more options.

A quick search on the Internet yielded two other companies in Indiana that could provide locks, Richardson said. Burkhart was also recently contacted by a Tennessee firm that was interested in the job.

“If you decide to bid it, the bids will come in (to county commissioners) Jan. 8 and the county council needs them Jan. 9,” Richardson said. “The timing is really good, and (auditor) Robin (Lowder) has the bid notice ready to send out now.”

The project will be advertised for bids Thursday and again next week. Specific details on what companies are to bid on will be available Friday in the county auditor’s office.

“There’s no benefit to not bidding, because the timeline is the same and I think it’s imperative to seek out the best value in the bid,” Armstrong said.

Sheriff Mike Shepherd said he was OK with seeking other companies for the project.

“As long as we get what we want, I don’t care,” he said.

The expense will come in addition to $150,000 spent earlier this year on a new control panel for jail security. Officials said last week that the new control panel, installed by Security Automation System, alerted them to a problem with cell locks. But they also said it’s important to not detail specific problems because of security concerns.

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