Thursday, the County Commission voted on what chairman Smiley Wooton described as one of the biggest projects that’s been discussed during his tenure.
The commission approved RFB-12-7 to fund utility upgrades and modifications to be made at the Chaves County Detention Center. Three companies submitted bids and Smithco Construction of Caballo was the lowest at $445,000. The standard AIA Owner and Contractor agreement between Chaves County and Smithco Construction was also approved.
Jim Wiginton, AIA president of Wiginton, Hooker and Jeffry Architects and Hal Barnett, AIA of ASA Architects presented a slide show outlining the necessary upgrades and the phases that will take place.
The top priorities include replacing security electronics system as well as including a new video visitation system, enlarging intake, holding and release areas and adding new inmate transfer area, adding new beds to female housing, the infirmary, and male housing, enlarging jail support areas, laundry, commissary, kitchen support and maintenance, and finally adding staff entry and staff support areas and a master plan for 500 beds. Wooton said the upgrades aren’t due to an influx in crime, but more about the sheer necessity of replacing old, outdated equipment.
“I mean there’s a reason for overcrowding [influx in crime] and that’s going to have a lot to do with it in my opinion, but also we have to upgrade our facility. The upgrade of the facility is through the electronics. Our control panels and the electronic end of our jail are worn out and obsolete. You can’t find parts for some of that equipment now. It’s very hard, and it’s just time to upgrade and move into the [21st] century with our jail.”
Despite the numerous improvements and upgrades planned for the facility, Wooton wants to assure citizens that they won’t be the ones footing the bill.
“The county has been very concerned about this for several years, and the county has been working on being able to fund this without raising taxes, I want to stress that. We have a system in place to be able to do this without raising taxes to the tax paying public.”
The system, Wooten said, involves strict budgeting on the part of all officials in the county.
“We are not going into this blind,” he said. “It’s been a whole county effort through all the department heads to tend to their budgets. We like to call it tightening of the belt around here. … That’s the way we want the public to know the county is being run at this time. We want to run this the way every tax-paying citizen runs their home or their businesses.”
After some discussion, it was approved for property located at 93 Burns Rd., as well as the parcel to the south to be rezoned to Industrial District for an oil field services business. The decision falls in line with the Chaves County Comprehensive Plan.
An agreement with Pictometry International Corporation for pictometry services was also approved after much discussion. The agreement includes provision of ortho photography and oblique images of 373 miles of Chaves County, including Roswell, Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur. The cost is $31,360.60 and includes 100 software licenses for access to the imagery, which may be available to the public at a later date.