After facing a possible court ordered shutdown of the Izard County jail nearly 10 months ago, officials gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony April 25 for the new 32-bed jail to be constructed at the industrial park in Melbourne.
Work is slated to begin this week on the new facility to be built on 4.6 acres of county-owned property. After the facility was on the brink of closing down last August funds were brought into the picture to ensure a new jail would be built.
Voters passed a referendum authorizing a one-half cent sales tax to allow the construction and a one-half cent sales tax to operate and maintain the facility.
Five general contractors submitted bids to the county and the low bid by Noacon of Fairfield Bay was accepted in the amount of $1,549,346.
Wayne Harlan, project manager, and Andy Gower, construction superintendent of Noacon, agreed they had 425 days to complete construction according to the terms of the contract.
Izard County Judge Eddie Cooper said all officials worked closely on this project and backed it 100 percent. He said, "This has been a combined effort to get this project under way." He said it was the single largest step Izard County had taken to go forward.
Sheriff Joe Martz said the new jail is designed to hold 26 men and six women. He added this would benefit the county because the present facility does not provide housing for women and it costs $45 per day to house a female in Independence County.
Martz said the facility would also be able to hold females from other counties, too, if beds are available and this could generate revenue for Izard County.
The state attorney general's office sued in Izard County Circuit Court to close the nine-bed jail in the basement of the courthouse for repeated failures to meet state jail standards. But the old jail is allowed to continue to operate under a court order to not house any more than nine prisoners, Cooper said.
The new complex will house the sheriff's department, a small courtroom that will seat 60 people and judges' chambers.