By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Construction of the regional jail in Warren County moves forward even as opponents push Shenandoah County leaders to pull out of the project.
Crews with Howard Shockey & Sons of Winchester have been at the site of the future, 375-bed Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on Winchester Road near Front Royal for several weeks.
The contractor started installing erosion and sediment control devices on the site and cleared areas for stormwater retention basins, according to Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County. Workers installed the construction entrance to the site and Stanley noted passersby likely would see more activity in the next few weeks.
The RSW Regional Jail Authority awarded a $55.57 million contract to Shockey several weeks ago. Documents provided by the authority show an estimated project cost of $65.68 million which would qualify for a 50 percent reimbursement from the state Department of Corrections. Additional costs not eligible for the reimbursement from the state raise the price to $71.28 million.
Financing costs bring the price to an estimated $83.29 million.
"What we know is that the $65 million is what has been approved by the state as being what is eligible [for reimbursement] including that contingency amount of $2 million," Douglas Walker, county administrator for Shenandoah County, said Wednesday, adding that the state budget includes $32.8 million, or half the eligible costs. "That's what we've been saying with regards to the 50 percent of eligible costs and, to us, the math really is the math. There's no other way to do the math as it relates to that issue.
"Now if you start talking about 'well, there are other costs,' that is absolutely true," Walker added.
Non-eligible costs include much of the equipment, vehicles, firearms, furniture and other items needed for the jail, the amounts of which remain estimates.
The authority issued a temporary notice to the contractor to proceed with its work several weeks ago, prior to the sale of bonds sought for the project. The final notice to proceed came when the Virginia Resource Authority closed on the sale of the requested $32 million in bonds less than two weeks ago.
"The contractor mobilized pretty quickly and they've actually been on the site for a couple of weeks now," Walker said. "He has his schedule and he has his contract and we have our money and the project is in progress."
The schedule included in the contract calls for the facility to open July 1, 2014, according to Walker.
The contract includes language which indicates Shockey assumes the risk of running into more rock formations than anticipated and budgeted in the construction cost, Walker explained. The authority did enter a shared risk regarding sinkholes on the site in an effort to secure a better price, according to Walker. But the authority will not see any change orders on rock removal, Walker said.
"They can't come and make a claim to us that we have to pay them to extract additional rock," Walker explained. "If there are errors in the contract documents then we'll have to talk about that."
The authority recently appointed members to serve on a transition committee and the panel's first tasks include discussing the idea of using local jails in Shenandoah and Rappahannock counties as holding areas for inmates, given their distances from the regional facility.
"We're obviously hopeful to have that issue or question kinda come up sooner rather than later cause those are pretty important to understanding what the impact is in our case, for Shenandoah County," Walker said. "Rappahannock County has its own issues and they'll be articulating their interests there."
Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron chairs that committee, which also has the task of hiring a superintendent ahead of the opening. Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors Chairman Conrad A. Helsley and Sheriff Timothy Carter also serve on the committee.