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Clay County Jail Project Likely To Go Out For Rebid In Early ’24

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Clay County Jail Project Likely To Go Out For Rebid In Early ’24

Sheriff Brandon Boone said Clay County is likely to restart the bidding process for the construction of its new jail at the beginning of the year.

This will be the second time the construction of the jail has been out for bid. The first time the bid came in $11 million over budget. Boone said the process has been disheartening.

“We work on it for 10, 11, 12 years now, and then the bid comes in, and it’s far more than our small county can afford,” Boone said. “So, yes, it is very frustrating.”

Boone said they did work with the engineer on how to cut costs, but it was not enough.

Boone said right now they are having to transport inmates back and fourth to several different jails in the area.

“We’re transporting from two or three different facilities to court,” Boone said. “After court, turn around and transport them back to those facilities. Our longest facility is Robinson County which is two hours and 15 minutes one way, so it’s a five-and-a-half hour trip. Probably, safely to say six hour trip to pick up an inmate, so a lot of them transports are done the night before. It’s really a logistical nightmare.”

The county’s wheel tax has been set aside for the jail, and Boone said the $1.4 million collected is not enough to get the project started.

“I’ve had multiple citizens ask me, ‘well where’s our wheel tax money going?’,” Boone said. “That money is in a reserve. That money has to be spent toward the jail. That dollar is continually growing everyday, people buying their tags. That money can’t be spent on anything other than the jail.”

Boone said in the beginning they considered adding on to the courthouse and making it a justice center. He said unfortunately it was not an option.

“Where the Community Center and Courtroom is now the property, according to the architect, is not big enough to have the jail and all of it combined with the parking and stuff,” Boone said. “We’ve had some obstacles to try and overcome.”

Boone said he is hopeful the second round of bidding will bring better news for the new jail.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Boone said. “It’s just that the revenue that we have here in Clay County, we’re limited. The mayor, myself and the commissioners obviously doesn’t want to put the county in jeopardy in spending more than we can afford.”


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