Regional jail nearing completion

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — The regional jail in Warren County should reach substantial completion soon, with staff and inmates to move in before July 1.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board heard updates on the facility’s construction, systems testing and staffing Thursday.

Board Chairman Doug Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, said the jail could reach substantial completion by the end of the week. Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron told the board he and the other sheriffs are working out details on transferring inmates from the local jails to the new facility on U.S. 340-522.

The authority plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the nearly $80 million jail at 10 a.m. June 17, followed by an open house for the public from noon to 4 p.m. This will be the only time the public can see the jail before each county begins transferring prisoners to the new facility.

Owner representative James Marstin updated the board on the project, noting that substantial completion is close. The contractor, Howard Shockey and Sons, and the design firm, Moseley Architects, are working on remaining items in the project.

An issue over the installation of equipment used in the facility’s plumbing system required the board to approve a change order, or unanticipated cost associated with the project, for approximately $31,778. Marstin explained that integral pieces of the vacuum for the plumbing system did not meet a specific standard. The contractor would need to replace the piece of equipment.

Daniel Murray Jr., chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, voted against approving. Murray asked if this was a design oversight. Tony Bell, of Moseley Architects, explained that the equipment manufacturer during the design phase said that the piece was appropriate. Once installed, the piece did not suffice. Two other valves needed for the system were omitted, Bell said. Murray contended that the manufacturer should credit the jail authority for the equipment that failed to meet the requirements. Bell said he didn’t think the manufacturer asked enough questions about equipment specifications for the jail plumbing system but noted that the architectural firm still shares some of the responsibility. Bell said the piece of equipment that did not meet specifications still can be used as a spare. Murray disagreed.

The jail budget includes $2.5 million for contingencies such as change orders. Less than 16 percent of the money earmarked for contingencies has been spent on change orders.

Superintendent Robert Mulligan reported on the continuing efforts to train and hire employees for the jail. Mulligan said the jail had nine vacant positions at last count. The second class of correctional officers started April 21 and should graduate June 26. Mulligan said the academy did not train the first class of officers in the use of the expandable baton so the jail is working with the school and other agencies to provide a special session for these employees prior to opening.

Mulligan reported that the two-month delay in reaching substantial completion created a hurdle for staff members as they prepared for the jail’s opening. A Security Electronics training computer did not arrive around February as expected, further delaying the preparation work. Jail officials had planned to begin having deliveries come to the facility after substantial completion. As of April 30, employees had not been given training on or access to the full jail security system. Mulligan said in his report that employees intend to open the facility and make it operational prior to July 1 but noted that staff may need to use a modified schedule as they acclimate to the jail operations.

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