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Grant County Jail construction planning process starts today with kickoff meeting

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 11, 2023 3:21 PM

EPHRATA — Grant County officials and representatives of the general contractor and architects will be meeting today to discuss the initial phases of construction of the new Grant County Jail.

Tom Gaines, Grant County Central Services director, said Grant County Commissioners selected Lydig Construction out of Spokane Valley as the general contractor.

“All of our pieces are in place,” Gaines said. “The team is now together, and we’re (planning) the next six to eight months.”

Thursday’s meeting is the start of that process.

“Everybody that’s responsible for getting this thing built meets in the same place,” Gaines said, and will review the work done to date. “Where we’ve been and where we’re going.”

County voters approved a three-tenths of 1% increase in the county’s sales tax in 2019, with the money to go toward law and justice projects including a new jail. Grant County Commissioners approved the sale of up to $90 million in limited tax general obligation bonds for the project in July 2022.

Gaines said county officials hope to build the jail and renovate the existing Law and Justice Building for about $75 million, but the actual costs are still to be determined.

“It’s just so hard to tell,” he said.

Part of the general contractor’s job will be to evaluate the costs and come up with an estimate for the project. That would be the maximum cost of construction, called the “guaranteed maximum price.”

Lydig Construction managers and Grant County Sheriff’s Office administrators will make a three-day trip to Florida in early February to look at facilities designed by CRA Architects of Tallahassee, Florida, the Grant County Jail architects. Gaines said that ensures all parties know the rationale behind the design choices.

“(CRA Architects) really pay attention to some key metrics,” Gaines said. “We were really impressed with the way (the facilities) were built and the thought that went into them.”

The design is still a work in progress.

“We have somewhat of a design,” Gaines said.

Part of the reason for hiring a general contractor before design is completed is to get their evaluation of the proposals, to see what’s feasible and what’s not, he said.

County officials have applied to the city of Ephrata to have the jail site – the old Ephrata Raceway at 14156 Road B.3 NW – added to the city’s urban growth area. Gaines said city officials have asked for more information about the application. If it’s approved, it would go to Grant County Commissioners for review in August.

If the UGA adjustment is approved, Gaines said he hopes construction would start in fall 2023. The first step will be clearing the site of the old track and grandstands, and preparing it for construction. Gaines said he hoped the site preparation work could start this spring.

Plans for the existing Law and Justice Building are still in the early stages, he said.

“All we’ve got is a couple of concepts,” he said.

One possibility is to consolidate all Grant County District Court and Grant County Superior Court facilities into the building, as well as possibly adding more courtrooms.

“We want to create a more positive experience for the public when they come to the courthouse,” he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

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