By MARK WAITE
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo remembered when he was a sheriff-elect eight years ago, touring several jail facilities in Utah and California with former county officials Henry Neth, Dave Chavez and Mike Maher.
“By the end of 2003, we’d have our shovels to the ground and we’d be on our way to building a new facility. As you can tell, we’re seven years past that and that didn’t happen until today,” DeMeo said.
The sheriff, re-elected to a third term in November, spoke during groundbreaking ceremonies Wednesday morning for the new $16.6 million Pahrump jail that will initially have space for 242 beds.
The deputies are very excited to be getting a new jail, DeMeo said. As for himself, he said, “Christmas comes early.”
Tom Schoeman, president of JMA architects, said the 57,500-square-foot facility is a major project for Nye County. While it will house 224 inmates in the initial phase, architects master planned the site for a second phase sometime in the future with another 224 inmates, for a total of 448, he said.
“In my mind this is I think the largest project that Nye County has ever participated in. This is a very momentous occasion. It’s a great opportunity for local construction companies to try and get some business here,” County Manager Rick Osborne said.
Commissioner Gary Hollis said briefly: “We’re here today to break ground and to fulfill a vision that has been long thought about and planned for. This is a much-needed project for Nye County and the infrastructure of the county and with this jail project we’re looking into the future.”
Bruce McDonough, vice-president of Layton Construction Company, said “This is a great day for us and I believe it’s a great day for the county. We’re excited about this project because it’s something we know how to do. We’ve been involved doing detention work for the last 10 or 15 years actually, but primarily in the last five years we’ve built a number of facilities and we’re very familiar with the basic design that’s being used here.”
One of the recent projects was a 1,000-bed inmate overflow facility for Clark County near Nellis Air Force Base.
The detention area in the new jail will be an octagon shape, with a central command observation point in the middle, surrounded by 11 pods. A rectangular area will surround the octagon on the west and north sides, with the kitchen, laundry and sally port on the Kittyhawk Street side to the west, the public entrance with a video visitation room will be on the north facing Siri Lane.
“When I got elected four years ago one of the first things on my mind was our courthouse was too small and our jail was very, very outdated and after four years of persistence with myself, Commissioner Hollis and others, it’s a reality now. Our courthouse has been expanded and now we’re going to have a jail that’s going to be suitable for at least 20 years in the future,” Commissioner Butch Borasky said.
Ed Deffner, Layton Construction’s senior project manager, told local contractors they will set up a trailer at the site next Wednesday, when they will have a bid package for footings, foundation and utility work. That work is expected to be completed by March 1, when another bid package will go out for mechanical, plumbing and electrical work, finished trades and interior work, he said.
“We’re expecting a 16-month construction schedule and right now it’s targeted for a Jan. 6 start. We’re obviously looking for ways to accelerate that. Time is money,” Deffner said.
Deffner said his company made an agreement with Nye County to hire as many local people as possible. A number of local contractors and vendors attended a briefing after the groundbreaking, including representatives from Ron Murphy Construction, Nye Construction Company, Morales Construction and Floyd’s Ace Hardware.
“One of our concerns, given the market today, I’m involved in one job today, a $20 million job, we had three contractors go out of business on that job. We’re obviously very concerned what that does to the schedule, what that does to the owners, what that does to the morale of the job,” Deffner said.
McDonough said if out-of-town subcontractors are chosen, they will be encouraged to hire from the local labor force.
Assistant County Manager Pam Webster backed up the company.
“When they go into communities they’re dedicated to using people from the community. They got a good history,” Webster said.
The request for proposals specified construction experience. Layton Construction, of Sandy, Utah, was the lowest in a short list of five companies recommended by a county committee. The construction cost will be $14.7 million of the $16.6 million contract with Layton.
Webster said the county will be using interest off the endowment funds built up with years of Yucca Mountain money, which are generating about $2.3 million per year of interest. The debt service on the bonds will be just under $1.4 million per year, she said.
The federal government will finance 35 percent of the interest in an economic stimulus package program called Build America Bonds. Webster said the county will pay a net interest rate of 4 percent.