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Local

DeKalb County Jail expansion hits snag

Facility could still start housing inmates as planned July 1

Joyce Klein, chief of corrections with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, guides a tour of the expansion of the jail Oct. 16. Klein said despite a delay in the construction of the jail's detention ceiling, the jail could begin housing inmates July 1, as originally planned.
Joyce Klein, chief of corrections with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, guides a tour of the expansion of the jail Oct. 16. Klein said despite a delay in the construction of the jail's detention ceiling, the jail could begin housing inmates July 1, as originally planned.

SYCAMORE – The completion date of the $36 million expansion of the DeKalb County Jail has been delayed from Jan. 23 to late-February, because of the change of a subcontractor's ownership, according to Chief of Corrections Joyce Klein.

The subcontractor hired to manufacture the jail's detention ceiling, Slate Security, was recently bought out by Claborn Manufacturing Co. of Athens, Alabama. Construction, however, is back on track, Klein said.

“We have many subcontractors for every little detail in the jail,” she said. “It’s a detention ceiling so it’s a very high security ceiling. There aren’t many contractors in the country for those types of ceilings.”

Klein said that the completion date could be moved back up, because the detention ceiling parts are coming in faster now.

“It’s a contractor issue," she said. "Because they were bought out, the transfer of hands caused some delays. But that could change again, too.

Besides the hiccup with the detention ceiling subcontractor, all other construction is on time or ahead of schedule, Klein said.

HVAC was installed more than a month ago, so workers have been able to work comfortably inside the heated jail. Bathrooms were also finished two weeks ago, and the fence is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Klein said most of the painting is done, and almost all the equipment is inside the kitchen and laundry spaces.

"We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made," she said.

Construction on the $36 million project began in June 2016. The expansion will increase the jail’s capacity to 153, solving a decade-old overcrowding problem. The jail will feature new cells, isolation rooms, a kitchen and medical facilities. This is the jail’s first renovation since it was built in 1980, and the space will nearly double from 46,481 square feet in 1980 to 83,630 square feet.

The current jail’s average daily inmate population so far this year is 141, the highest in the jail’s history. In 2016, the average inmate population was only 113, said Klein, who said there have been a couple of days in 2017 when the jail housed 155 inmates.

After the expansion is completed, the project will be turned over to the city of Sycamore for testing. In March, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office will bring in furniture and begin transferring materials over from the current jail.

The new jail was expected to begin housing inmates by July 1. Officials hope to maintain that date, despite the surprise delay with the detention ceiling.

“You never like to miss targets,” DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said. “But if we’re missing it by only a month considering how big this project is, then that's not too bad at all."

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