Beltrami County commissioners took the first step Tuesday in a $280,000 county jail upgrade by hiring an architectural firm for the project.
"The jail control systems are 24 years old," County Facilities Manager Steve Shadrick told commissioners during their work session. "We can no longer find component parts for repairs as they are obsolete. We have to rebuild existing parts."
The project, estimated at $280,000, would replace the jail controls system which works the doors, lighting, intercom, water shutoff and video security.
"There just aren't people knowledgeable in these systems anymore," Shadrick said.
The board, as part of its consent agenda, hired Engineering Design Initiative of Minneapolis for protect architecture and engineering. Shadrick said it was one of several firms bidding on a larger, $3 million project that included energy efficient measures. The jail upgrade has been contemplated since 2008.
EDI's quote for the project was 8.25 percent of the total project cost, or $23,000. Commissioner Jim Lucachick, a self-employed architect, said the price was fair, as such projects usually range from 5 percent to 20 percent.
Architectural services wasn't put out on bids since there are only a few Minnesota firms that do such work in jails, and EDI had the lowest bid when the bigger project was considered, Shadrick said.
When asked by Lucachick, Shadrick said the upgrade should take the jail another 20 years, and allow for expansion, if necessary, in the future.
EDI's work will be brought to the County Board, which then must approve the project for construction bids. EDI would also provide construction administration services.
Money to pay for the project was set aside in the 2011 budget into a capital project fund from payment-in-lieu-of-taxes from the state as fees from state-managed land in Beltrami County, said County Administrator Tony Murphy.
"That fund is used to address planned or unforeseen capital projects," he said. "This will be very challenging to do, as we don't want to house prisoners elsewhere during the project."
"This is a must-do situation," said County Board Chairman Joe Vene.
In a separate law enforcement matter, Gary Peterson of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department reported on a Feb. 12 prescription drug "turn-in" project held at the Law Enforcement Center.
About 50 people participated, bringing in 24 pounds of 150 different prescription drugs, 14 pounds of over-the-counter drugs, and some liquid medicines. Also turned in were 2,800 pills and tablets of Schedule 1 drugs, which are illegal to possess unless under prescription.
The medications were transported to southern Illinois for proper disposal, Peterson said.