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Jail board looks at site security issues

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL - The contractor for the area's next regional jail plans to ramp up security after burglars stole materials from the site earlier this week.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board on Thursday heard from owner-representative James Marstin about efforts by Howard Shockey and Son to prevent costly theft from the construction area.

Marstin told the board the contractor is considering the installation of overhead lighting that would operate on timers. The overhead lights would illuminate the construction site.

Thieves broke in through a locked gate and accessed construction trailers at the site on U.S. 340-522 north of Front Royal, according to information released by the Warren County Sheriff's Office. Thieves stole approximately $50,000 worth of building materials and equipment.

Sheriff Daniel McEathron told the board the thieves "knew what they were after" at the site. Thieves didn't vandalize the construction site, according to authorities.

"The problem is we don't have access to the site to patrol it," McEathron said.

Marstin said the contractor has offered to install the lighting timers at its own expense. Marstin noted that some construction firms have taken more drastic and expensive measures such as installing security cameras or hiring security firms to have people on site.

Also at the meeting, the board agreed to expand the benefits package for Superintendent Robert Mulligan.

Board members met in closed session to discuss a personnel matter, specifically the salary and benefits. Authority attorney Brandon Hefty came out of the closed session twice, with a document in hand, to talk to Mulligan about the matter.

Members came out of closed session and Hefty made the recommendation that the board amend the benefits. Under the changes, the superintendent will have an authority-issued vehicle rather than the $300 allowance granted in the original contract. The superintendent also will have two weeks of annual leave as well as one week of vacation time that will accrue at the same rate as established for Shenandoah County personnel.

The board approved the change by a vote of 7-0.

The board also:

  • Approved a motion to enter an agreement to lease a 4,000-square-foot home near the jail site from the Economic Development Authority. The house would serve as transitional office space for the superintendent and staff he intends to hire in the next few months.

    Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County and board chairman, explained that the house would offer the superintendent's staff not only more space but also parking access to their offices. The superintendent noted that space for an on-site trailer is limited given the construction activity. He added that a trailer would cost approximately $25,000 to rent through next April. Stanley said the EDA has offered to lease the house at a monthly rate of $2,000 - less than the cost of a trailer.

  • Heard a regular status report from Marstin regarding the construction. Marstin told the board the contractor remains on schedule. Marstin said that roughly 5 percent of the $2.7 million contingency in the project budget has been used to cover additional unforeseen costs. The contingency is approximately 5 percent of the total project budget of about $80 million.

  • Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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