Commissioners tour, talk about the new jail

Friday, April 14, 2017
Bourbon County Commission Chairman Lynne Oharah looks around the pod area of the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center under construction at 323 E. 20th St. Also pictured is Tony Deaird, University Construction Company site manager, talking to Third District Commissioner Nick Ruhl.

The Bourbon County Law Enforcement Construction site is a busy place as workers are laying blocks, installing ductwork, and marking lines on the floor where walls should be.

On Wednesday, Commission Chairman Lynne Oharah spoke about the project to members of the Fort Scott Rotary.

He said the project got underway two years ago when voters approved a .4 percent retail sales tax increase for 20 years to repay a $6.58 million bond to construct the jail.

Door jams are set inside the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center under construction at 323 E. 20th St.

“In the process we had some issues that came up especially when we looked at quarter million dollar project going on at the same time, Pittsburg started their casino and there’s about one billion dollars worth of construction that just started in Kansas City, so the labor market went nuts, so the price of the jail went up,” Oharah said.

According to the ballot language, the sales tax could be used for the construction of the new jail, renovate the existing jail facility or pay off the jail bonds early.

“That’s what we did,” Oharah said. “We issued another $1.788 million to cover a lease-purchase agreement with Pauley Jail for the cells.”

Later, Oharah said the original cost estimate included the cells, but bids came in higher than was expected.

He said the bond issue was passed before the county purchased a site.

“That was quite the process,” Oharah said.

He said county officials looked at about five sites before purchasing nearly 6 acres at 323 E. 20th Street for about $208,000. He said the county purchased that amount of land with the idea of having the option of expanding other county offices in the future.

Construction got underway in November.

“We caught a break in the weather,” Oharah said. “We got our concrete poured during the winter and the building is up. It should be what they called dried in a week.”