SYCAMORE – An expansion project to remedy overcrowding at the DeKalb County Jail is moving along right on schedule, Joyce Klein, the sheriff’s chief of corrections, said Tuesday.
Excavation of the expansion site was completed in June and July, and the installation of footings and basement walls began in August and will continue into October, Klein said.
Some rainy days in August have been the only factor to slow construction, setting workers back about a week, she said.
Klein said precast concrete panels for the walls are set to arrive and start going up at the end of October. Most of the walls are 12 feet wide, 45 feet tall and weigh 50,000 pounds.
Construction manager Jeremy Rolling said his crew members still are working on the concrete foundation, and they will be ready to erect steel and precast concrete for the walls within the next couple of months.
“Everything has been going according to plan,” Rolling said.
Klein said some preliminary plumbing work has begun as well, and four of the eight additional corrections deputies needed to staff the expanded jail already have been hired.
“We don’t want to open the facility with eight new people on at once,” Klein said. “We plan on hiring two more this year and two next year.”
She said the $35 million project has stayed within its budget so far, and a contingency budget also has been set aside in case more funds are needed.
According to DeKalb County’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017, the jail’s transition creates a “paradox” in that more staff members are needed to ensure a timely and safe opening, while budget cuts are being made throughout the county.
The county is using multiple revenue sources to finance the expansion, including increased revenue from tipping fees at Waste Management’s landfill near Cortland, rather than increasing property taxes.
Klein said substantial completion is scheduled for January 2018, and final completion is expected in May or June 2018.
After final completion, jail administration will take some time to train staff members and conduct public tours, Klein said.
She said the expansion should be ready for inmates by August 2018.
Once completed, the expanded jail will have capacity for 163 beds, with immediate plans to use 133. The jail opened in 1980 and was 46,481 square feet with the capacity for 64 inmates.
After overcrowding in the late 1980s, beds were added to increase capacity to 89, the jail’s current capacity. According to the DeKalb County Government website, the jail’s highest population was seen in 2012 when it averaged 136 inmates a day.
The addition should allow enough space to house the average of 30 to 50 inmates who are detained in other counties because of limited bed space at the DeKalb County Jail.