Plans to build a work release facility at the Salamon Airport Terminal in Winchester are back on track after being derailed by the general contractor’s failure to comply with state regulations.
Mark Brooker, CEO of the Olive Group, LLC, was hired as the consultant/project manager for the remodel. His contracting firm began renovations at the terminal on May 26, 2015. The work was expected to be completed in 90 days. The discovery that Brooker’s building plans and permits were not in compliance with state requirements led to his dismissal from the project.
“Once we realized that the guidelines our general contractor should have been following were not being followed, we put a stop on everything, and terminated the contract with Olive Group,” said Adams County Commissioner Brian Baldridge.
The commissioner’s office has since hired an architectural firm, Darin S. Schweickart (DS2Architects), to develop new plans for the facility that comply with state regulations.
Construction at the site will resume following the state’s approval of the new plans.
“We’ve had to backtrack a little bit and make sure that we comply with everything the state wants, obviously it set us back time-wise but we’re still on track,” said Baldridge.
The commissioners are also seeking a variance at the site which would shave another $20,000 off the cost of the renovation.
“This board is very fiscally sound, we really work hard to treat the public’s money with respect,” said Commissioner Stephen Caraway, “We are still within the confines of our budget and we firmly believe that we can stay within that budget, because we were actually below budget in the initial phase.”
Because of over-crowded conditions, Adams County has spent $235,000 in the past two years to house prisoners in the Butler and Gallia County jails.
According to an official report: “In June 2013, the Adams County Commissioners launched a Jail Task Force to conduct a review of the county’s current jail facility, policies, and operations. The task force was also asked to provide potential solutions to overcrowding issues to include the feasibility of a minimum security jail facility. After receiving the recommendations from the task force, the board looked at the feasibility of a new full-service jail and decided that the cost of building and maintaining a new facility would put the county in long-term financial peril. The next course of action the board considered was a work release facility. In collaboration with Sheriff Kimmy Rogers and Prosecutor David Kelley, they determined this was the most cost-effective way to deal with the jail over-crowding issue.”
“This facility is a creative response to dealing with the overcrowding in our county jail,” Commissioner Paul Worley stated, “I am proud of the collaborative effort of our county officials to adapt to changing circumstances and to deal with this issue effectively.”
The work release facility would allow prisoners who are sufficiently trusted to continue working at their current place of employment. As members of the program, inmates are still legally prisoners of Adams County’s incarceration system. Any inmate who violates the work release rules by leaving the facility without permission or failing to return at the designated time can be charged with escape, which is a felony.
The estimated costs of renovating the airport terminal is $140,000. According to officials, it will pay for itself within one year.
“After two years of careful planning and deliberation, I believe that this is the most cost effective plan for helping keep our inmate housing costs under control,” said Commissioner Caraway, “Utilizing existing county property saves public money and at the same time gives Sheriff Rogers the resources he needs to lock up people when they break the law.”
The new facility will feature a protected room for a member of the sheriff’s department , kitchen and laundry areas, bedrooms for inmates, restrooms with showers, and a common room which can be used for drug treatment programs, religious services, computers so inmates can look for jobs, and a television.
Sheriff Rogers made it clear that only low-risk prisoners will be housed at the facility. Residents will be considered inmates of the county, and failure to return to the facility immediately after their work shifts would result in felony charges.
“I think the thing to remember here is that the only inmates out here will be low risk and non-violent,” Rogers said. “There’s certain standards they have to meet before we’re able to bring them out here.”
Rogers also said this will be a way to provide these inmates easy access to drug treatment programs and mental health services. “A plus to this facility is we can hire drug counselors, provide mental health professionals and treatment for people in this facility.” Rogers also added this facility will free up a deputy on his force that normally would be traveling to another county to pick up inmates.
“Our mission is to give the sheriff and the courts the tools they need to do their jobs and we must work to provide those tools in the most cost-effective manner,” said Worley.
There will be no impact to the regular use of the other airport facilities or runway operations and the airport will remain open during construction and after construction is complete, officials said.