RSW jail board tours construction site

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL – Stark cinder block walls, dark cells and exposed pipes in the roof show the area’s next regional jail under construction.

A tour of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on U.S. 522 outside Front Royal on Thursday gave the authority board and other area officials an early glimpse of the facility. The remaining members of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors joined the tour group after the authority board meeting. Superintendent Robert Mulligan, who starts in the role on June 3, also participated in the tour along with representatives of firms working with the authority on the project.

Most of the facility now sits under a roof that allows crews to work on the inside without the worry of inclement weather. Only a few workers remained on the site as the tour began around 4 p.m.

Mike Stanger, project superintendent with Howard Shockey & Sons Inc., led the tour. He made sure participants wore protective helmets and advised the group not to stray off into other areas of the site. Stanger pointed out rooms, their functions and features. Chris Webb, a consultant working with the authority, also explained some of the areas of the jail.

Board members joked with colleagues about spending time in the jail cells. The tour group saw cells in maximum- and minimum-security areas. A 250-foot crane lowered pre-cast cells into place earlier this spring. The 7-foot by 10-foot cells came complete with stainless steel toilets, light fixtures and other amenities. The dimensions are standard requirements of the Virginia Department of Corrections. The maximum-security pods can house 16 inmates while the other pods hold more prisoners.

Stanger noted that the jail features a vacuum system that would allow staff to shut down toilets if inmates try to clog the drains.

The tour group also saw the laundry facilities, the kitchen area and other sections of the jail.

Stanger also pointed out the jail’s cistern — a system that, once completed, collects and holds 200,000 gallons of rainwater. Plans call for the jail to use the collected rainwater for the laundry and cooling towers.

The 270,000-square-foot jail sits on a 28-acre site. The facility is designed to house 375 inmates but as Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County and authority board chairman, pointed out the jail can expand on the site if needed.

The nearly $80 million facility is scheduled to open in the summer 2014.

At the meeting earlier that afternoon, the authority board:

  • Approved the fiscal 2014 budget that calls for spending up to $3.9 million on salaries and benefits, training, furniture, vehicles and other expenses. Garland Miller, budget manager for Shenandoah County, and Stanley explained that next year’s budget figures represent estimates rather than exact amounts because the facility remains under construction. Miller noted that the Department of Corrections required the board to approve a budget by July 1.
  • Approved paying an additional $36,000 to Moseley Architects for services provided related to designing a water system for the jail. The authority board sought the firm’s services when it appeared Front Royal would not accept the jail into the town’s wastewater treatment and water service systems. Moseley designed a water system for the jail. Town leaders and the authority board eventually reached an agreement that allows the jail to connect to the Front Royal water and sewer systems. Likewise the town agreed to treat the water collected in a cistern and used by the jail for its laundry facilities and cooling towers.
  • Endorsed furnishings for the administrative offices and other areas of the jail.