County Commission to consider jail options

OKEECHOBEE — At their Jan. 23 meeting, the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Securitecture, LLC for $246,150 for professional services for jail renovation and expansion.

Joseph Mrak, president of Securitecture, explained the team includes structural engineers, mechanical, fire protection and plumbing engineers, Okeechobee County’s Steve Dobbs (civil engineering services), and a food service consultant, and all of these people will be involved in evaluating the needs for the county jail.

He said during the pre-design phase they will determine the needs, how to fix the problems and the costs.

He said they will go back through 20 years of data to look at the trends of how many people come into the jail, male and female mix, ages, what crimes they are accused of, etc. They will also look at coming legislative changes that will impact jail stays.

They will then look at all of the options to renovate or replace the jail and present the options to the county commissioners.

“We have to look at what would the cost of a new jail be?” he said.

He said they will make a detailed evaluation of the existing jail, including the condition of the jail and the space needs.

He said the process will take about six months.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, the majority of the board appeared to be opposed to the idea of putting a jail bond referendum on the 2020 ballot. The consensus of the board was to have County Administrator Robbie Chartier lay out the options for the jail funding source and bring it back to the board.

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