Northampton Jail repairs in final stages

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2005

JACKSON – Minor alterations and a stamp of approval are all that stand between the Northampton County Detention Center and an officially finished project.

According to information given by Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins, construction improvements and updates on the second story of the old Northampton County Jail are nearly finished.

In the January 18 meeting of the Northampton County Commissioners, Jenkins stated that the upstairs on the jail is finished and simply awaiting inspector’s approval.

In October 2004, 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 as a result of an April 25 ceiling collapse.

Subsequently, the Public Works Department had an architectural evaluation performed to determine the extent of damages and received advice from the architect on a plan of action consistent with state guidelines.

Eventually, the job was awarded to C.D. Williams of Roanoke Rapids who recently completed the reconstruction of the jail’s roof among other recommended/necessary repairs.

C.D. Williams was formerly employed by the county to perform work on the Jackson Courthouse and the adjacent building where Commissioners meetings are held.

&uot;The work is pretty much completed,&uot; said Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent. &uot;The whole area has been completely remodeled. We’ve repainted and refinished the walls, installed new lighting; redid the floors, addressed the electrical system and just recently finished installing a water fountain. There are still some minor things that need to be done, but everything is basically finished.&uot;

Vincent stated that the county inspector would likely do the final walk thru this week and anticipates moving inmates in the newly renovated area by the first of February.

Northampton County Jail Administrator Milton Drew is happy about that.

&uot;Right now, we are over capacity,&uot; he said. &uot;But once the county building inspector and the Raleigh Jail and Detention Division give their approval, we will have 30 additional beds we can use.&uot;

State law prohibits the placement of misdemeanor criminals with convicted felons.

&uot;It’s a real challenge to juggle inmates when you’re over capacity,&uot; said Drew, who worked to ensure the smooth operation of construction at the site.

According to Drew, the jail presently detains 29 misdemeanor offenders, most of which are incarcerated for child support violations.

&uot;The newly renovated facility will allow us to relocate these inmates,&uot; he said.

In addition to the renovations at the old jail, the Sheriff’s Office is in the process of gathering preliminary estimates for updating existing locking devices at the new jail.

Last October, Vincent told Commissioners that failure to address the issue would result in a breach of security.

Though the time frame is uncertain, updates at the new jail will likely become a topic of discussion at future Commissioners meetings.