Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
By Pat Royse
Final plans for Mercer County Jail ready for bids
  Plans for the new Mercer County Detention Center got a final OK from the Courthouse Committee on Tuesday and the unanimous vote allows bids for its construction to be submitted.
The Courthouse Committee, set up under the Ohio Revised Code, has the final say on plans that involve any building or revisions relating to the courthouse or jail.
The $13.2 million construction cost estimate mentioned Tuesday is up from last year's estimate of $12 million that the county budgeted for the new jail on state Route 29.
Committee Chairman Commissioner Jerry Laffin said the current estimate is higher due to fuel increases and the cost of some construction materials. He told the group that steel, for example, has gone up 27 percent in the last six months.
But he told the six committee members present in the courthouse auditorium to go over the final plans from Shremshock Architects of Westerville that there has been a lot of interest in and the project from contractors. Because of the economy and competition for the contracts, Laffin said he was hoping the bids come in under estimate.
Both Laffin and Mercer County Auditor Mark Giesige, who attended the meeting but is not a member of the committee, noted that if the bids came in higher than the county could afford, the county would have to revisit the plans.
"But at least we will have the real numbers at that time," Giesige said.
The bid deadline is July 8 and a bid opening is tentatively set for 3 - 3:30 p.m. on that day. A decision on contracts is expected to be made by July 22.
The probable construction costs are: general construction, $8,419,670; fire protection, $250,312; plumbing, $1,300,000; HVAC, $1,900,198; electrical, $1,359,950; all totaling $13,230,130.
The motion to approve the plan package was made by Juvenile Court Judge Mary Pat Zitter and seconded by Commissioner John Bruns. The other committee members are Laffin, Commissioner Bob Nuding, Sheriff Jeff Grey, and Chief Probation Officer Mike Huber who was standing in for common Pleas Court Judge Jeff Ingraham. The seventh committee member, Clerk of Courts Jim Highley was absent.
The approval followed a power point presentation by Grey, which was followed by questions.
Zitter asked where juveniles would be held in the jail. Ohio law says they must be kept away - out of sight, sound and contact - of the regular prison population until a judge can make a decision on placement. Grey pointed to interview rooms and a holding cell separated from the inmate area in response to her question.  
A copy of the plans, - a three -inch stack of drawings that are about a yard wide - are being placed in the auditor's office for public inspection.
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