Repairs needed at Northampton Jail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 2004

JACKSON – During their last meeting, Northampton County Commissioners approved a combined fund allocation of $36,985 from the Jail maintenance and repair line item and General Fund Contingency to cover some unexpected repairs needed at the Northampton County Jail.

In a recent examination by the State Jail Inspector, the ceiling on the second floor of the old Jail Complex was cited and the county was asked to submit a plan of action for repairs.

Earlier this year, on April 25, the ceiling unexpectedly collapsed, causing the Public Works Department to perform an evaluation of the damages.

Architect Surpon Sujjavanich was called upon to advise the county on a plan of action consistent with state guidelines in a consultation with Public Works Director Andy Crew.

&uot;After the consultation, we concluded that it would be best to follow Sujjavanich’s recommendation to have tests performed on the ceiling materials to check for the presence of lead and/or asbestos contamination,&uot; said Crew.

After the tests came back negative, Sujjavanich drew up specific plans for repair, allowing Crew to proceed with locating possible contractors to perform the job.

After four of the contractors with previous histories of working with the county were contacted, Crew brought them before the Commissioners for a decision and the contract was ultimately awarded to C.D. Williams of Roanoke Rapids, a contractor formerly employed to perform work on the Jackson Courthouse and the adjacent building where Commissioners meetings are held.

In response to Commissioner James Boone’s expressed desire to see the county seek more local contractors and question over why the work was not advertised, Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins explained.

&uot;There are two methods for hiring contractors; a formal method and an informal method. In this case we chose the informal method and recommended the contract to the lowest responsible bidder (a contractor with a verifiable history and references),&uot; he said.

&uot;Three bids are required for construction or repair in the formal range, which is $100,000 or more, and Mr. Crew was well within the state guidelines since the contracted work fell below that amount,&uot; he concluded.

In addition to roof repair, Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent commented that the state inspector of the Jail cited the electrical system as an item needing to be addressed.

&uot;Repairs are almost impossible because the system is so old and outdated,&uot; he stated. &uot;It will be hard to meet the standard and get the inspector to approve it unless we fix this problem.&uot;

Vincent told Commissioners that failure to address the issue would result in a breach of security and emphasized the importance of seeing that the jail was properly maintained.

&uot;This is certainly an unexpected expense,&uot; stated Crew, &uot;but we feel this is work that needs to be performed.&uot;

The repairs will be funded with $10,000 from the Jail maintenance and repair line item and the balance from the General Fund Contingency.

Contractors are scheduled to begin work next Monday. Date of completion for the project is still pending.