A final decision on the location of the new jail has been made and the Pulaski County Commission has decided that it will definitely be on the grounds of the old Waynesville Middle School building the county purchased a number of years ago.
The building has been home to Pulaski County's Office of Emergency Management, the ASYMCA, and other organizations in recent years. ASYMCA and the other organizations have moved out of the building and the county says it will likely move the Office of Emergency Management back into the courthouse, once the sheriff's office moves out to the new law enforcement center housing the new jail.
Commissioners accepted a bid of $419,998 to tear down portions of the old building. The plan is to keep the part that houses what people commonly refer to as the "new gym." Currently, Waynesville voters cast their votes in that area, but Brent Bassett told the Daily Guide that voting will be moved elsewhere permanently once demolition and construction begins.
County Assessor, Floodplain Administrator, and member of the Jail Taskforce, a group of citizens from all over the county tasked with making recommendations to the County Commission about building a new jail, Don Mayhew told reporters during Monday morning's county commission meeting that the estimated cost of building the new jail would be about $13.5 million.
The new jail is projected to be able to house 115 inmates, according to information given at the meeting with room to expand down the road, if its needed. The facility will also be federally compliant, making it a viable option to house Department of Corrections inmates, for which the county can collect a fee.
Some concern has been expressed on social media, during the planning and recommendation making phase, as the Jail Taskforce has been gathering information to make its recommendations to the County Commission, about locating the jail at the old middle school site due to its proximity to Waynesville Park.
Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk told the Daily Guide, when asked to address this concern, that the current location for Probation and Parole is only 200 feet from a daycare center and 600 feet from the Waynesville Middle School, saying he believes the jail location will be much safer than that.
"There's going to be a risk no matter where you are," Newkirk said with assurances that safety issues have been and will be addressed.
Commissioners approved a request by Mayhew during Monday's meeting to test the paint in the building for lead. The testing will be performed in the hopes that lead won't be present or will be below allowable standards so that the county can use the demolished portions of the building for fill because they want to elevate the parking lot to help reduce the chance of flooding.
Mayhew told commissioners that the testing would be worth it to keep from hauling off "good clean fill."
When asked when demolition might begin and when construction on the new jail may start, Mahew said they would be discussing demolition with the contractor and notice to proceed would be issued once things were worked out. As for construction, Mayhew siad a meeting with the architect has been scheduled for August 28 and a "tentative construction date" would come from that meeting.
A complete video the county commission's discussion of the plans for the new jail, demolition, and explanation of the plans is available at www.facebook.com/WaynesvilleDailyGuide in a Facebook Live video.
Newkirk said he wanted to commend the members of the Jail Taskforce, pointing out that they had made numerous trips to facilities around the state to decide what would work for Pulaski County's new jail on their own time, without compensation.
"They've worked hard and kudos to the whole group," Newkirk said.
Western District Commissioner Rick Zweerink said the commission had tried to set the Jail Taskforce up to represent the whole county and he felt the group really had accomplished that.
"Everybody speaks highly of these folks," Zweerink said.