By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- A Winchester firm has been chosen to start building the RSW Regional Jail this summer.
Howard Shockey & Sons Inc. was chosen Thursday by the Regional Jail Authority, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said.
On April 12, Moseley Architects opened the six bids it had received for the regional lockup, and Shockey's was the lowest at about $55.7 million. The second lowest bid, for about $58 million, came from W.M. Schlosser Co.of Hyattsville, Md.
The highest bid was $61.5 million.
The bids were base bids, and there could be changes in the facility's options that make the cost up to $1 million less.
Carter, who has long opposed the regional jail project and has said he could build a local jail for less than the cost Shenandoah County will have to pay for the regional one, voted against accepting the bid.
Construction of the 375-bed jail is expected to begin this summer at a site on Winchester Road, U.S. 340/522 about 3 miles north of Interstate 66. It's expected to open in 2014.
The state is expected to pay about 45 percent of the construction costs. The state no longer provides any reimbursement to localities which opt to build local jails.
Earlier this month, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the jail authority to issue up to nearly $100 million worth of bonds and notes.
A vocal group of county residents has pressured the supervisors to back down from the project, but has been told doing so would put the county at risk of legal action by its partner counties of Rappahannock and Warren.
County Attorney Jay Litten said the jail authority has already incurred debt, and the county couldn't withdraw from the jail agreement without the unanimous approval of the other jurisdictions. A mandamus could bring the county back into the agreement, he said.
The consequences of that would be hard for him to predict, Litten said.
"I do know that we're bound to the agreement at this point, unless the other member jurisdictions agree to let us out," he said.
Warren County Supervisors Chairman Archie Fox said he didn't know whether Warren County would take Shenandoah County to court if it opted to withdraw from the agreement.
"There may very well be some legal entanglements that I would not be aware of that our attorney would advise us [of]," he said Friday night. "I just couldn't say. I know that it would be quite disturbing for Warren County.
"For us, [a regional jail] is definitely the best way to go."