NATCHEZ, Mississippi — It would cost $2.5 million to completely repair the Adams County Jail, but not all that work is necessary, a local architect has told the county.
The Natchez Democrat (http://bit.ly/ZnXW92) reports county supervisors voted Monday to seek bids to repair the jail, in an effort to avoid spending an estimated $6.8 million for a new jail.
Architect Johnny Waycaster told supervisors the most pressing need is replacing the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The current system was designed for about half the people the building currently houses, and some parts of the interior have mold and mildew problems. The jail was designed with 62-single-bed cells, and those cells are now double-bunked.
Replacing the air system could cause parts of the jail to be closed for two or three months, requiring the county to house inmates elsewhere during that time.
Speaking to board members after Waycaster's presentation, Sheriff Chuck Mayfield and Chief of Staff Debbie Gee said they didn't think that option would be possible.
"There would be a cost of moving prisoners, and we don't know of a close county that would be able to house them," Gee said. "We'd have to bring them back and forth to court hearings, so all the jailers we have now will all have to become transport people."
Other repairs in his report included repairing the roof to prevent leaks and repairing exterior brick issues.
Mayfield also wants to consolidate sheriff's offices elsewhere. But some supervisors want to wait on that decision until they decide whether or not to build a new jail.
The board has considered renting one of two downtown buildings. Board members agreed the former Callon Petroleum building, where the rent would be $5,000 a month, would be the best fit. But no decision was made. Supervisor David Carter said he didn't want to move offices before making a decision on the future of the jail.
"Let's not do anything quickly so we don't come back and say, 'Well we shouldn't have spent a couple of thousand dollars in the meantime,'" Carter said.
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/