By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- Construction of the area's next regional jail remains on schedule, according to a project official.
The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board heard a progress report on the project during its regular meeting Thursday. The authority board's project owner representative, James Marstin, said the contractor, Howard Shockey & Sons, has a significant portion of the project under roof.
"They're not really losing a lot of time," Marstin said. "As a matter of fact, they say they're on time or little ahead of time."
The number of change orders -- requests by the contractor for more or less money for a task -- appears on the decline.
"We actually had more credits than expenses," Marstin said. "It won't always be this way."
The board also took action on several items pertaining to the project, including the selection of a facility logo and approving a job description for a superintendent.
Board members have expressed a need to hire a superintendent by the spring. Salary and benefits have not been calculated but the cost to hire a superintendent is included in the amount the authority borrowed for the project. The board agreed that the transition committee would undertake the effort to select and recommend a candidate for the job.
The authority board also voted unanimously to approve a plan to build a wastewater treatment plant on the site of the jail. The plant, likely located at the back of the property, would treat 20,000 gallons of wastewater from the jail's laundry facility.
Moseley Architects representatives advised the board that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for a treatment plant should the authority choose to build the facility for the jail.
The board unanimously approved an option to build the larger of two plant designs at a cost of approximately $1.34 million that would come out of the project's contingency fund.
Moseley estimates that the Virginia Department of Corrections should cover half the cost, leaving the remaining $688,017 for the board.
Authority board members Conrad Helsley Jr., chairman of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, and Douglas Walker, county administrator for Shenandoah County, did not attend the meeting.
Rappahannock County County Administrator John McCarthy expressed concern about the plant cost and the option to also pay fees to tap into water and sewer.
"It's always nice to have belts and suspenders and, you know, that way you have that much more confidence but the problem here I think is the price of that confidence," McCarthy said. "It's basically upwards of a million dollars to get a sewer tap as well. For the price of this project that's a huge percentage for the effect it would have on our contingency. It's just awful."
McCarthy lauded Moseley Architects and Patton, Harris, Rust and Associates for coming up with the lower-cost option that does not include sewer tap fees.
Authority board Chairman Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, noted the entity saves more than $3 million over the next 20 years if it makes the investment upfront. This keeps the per diem rate for inmates down as well, Stanley said.
"Much as I would not operate a sewage treatment plant or have our regional jail operate a sewage treatment plant because it is a bit of a management headache, these kind of numbers are impossible to ignore," McCarthy said.
Warren County Supervisor Daniel Murray Jr. expressed support for the option.
"We have to be fiscally conservative," Murray said. "We have to think of all of our citizens and to be fair."
The authority board sought information on the cost to build and operate a treatment plant on the jail site when Front Royal officials notified members the town would not treat the water used for laundry. Moseley Architects and Patton, Harris, Rust and Associates gave the board options and members directed the firms to perform preliminary designs.
But Carrie Henaghan, project manager with Moseley Architects, advised the board it needs to take action soon so the construction of a treatment plant can be finished by the time the jail reaches substantial completion. Plans call for the jail to open in July 2014.
"So there's not really any room in this schedule to keep delaying without consequences," Henaghan said.
Stanley told the board that Moseley Architects included in the construction documents a requirement that the contractor, Howard Shockey & Sons, check the sewer lines as soon as possible after they pour the foundation. This should help avoid any problems with the sewer system that might delay the opening of the jail, Stanley said. The county ran into problems with its last three large-scale projects -- the Public Safety Building, Skyline High School and Warren County High School -- according to Stanley.
The board also approved an amended agreement with the Stoney Point Sanitary District in Shenandoah County under which the jail buys wastewater treatment credits from the county facility to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Act.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org