Carroll County officials gave the go-ahead yesterday to open the new $6.1 million detention center addition while work, including installation of a backup generator, is completed.
Correctional staff began moving furniture into the wing Tuesday, after a state inspector approved necessary alterations to two boilers, but had to await yesterday's final county approval.
Lt. Col. George R. Hardinger, the jail's warden, said immediate occupancy would not jeopardize safety of the staff or inmates. He said not having a backup generator means that, at worst, inmates would have to be locked down for a brief time if electric power is interrupted.
No danger, warden says
"I don't think I am putting anyone at risk," he said. "If the electricity went out, we could operate on one generator with minimal power, and the turnaround time to bring in and connect another generator is only two hours."
Hardinger said he would rather have occupancy of the 100-bed addition than operate without it any longer.
The inmate population has averaged nearly 200 a day, well above the jail's design capacity of 124.
With the new wing and soon-to-be-completed renovations in the old portion of the building, the ideal operational capacity will be 224.
Hardinger has said he could be comfortable if the daily census fluctuated as high as 240 to 250. Under such a scenario, additional beds could be used on a temporary basis.
Tom Rio, the county's chief of building construction, said the new generator, which is not part of the contract with CJF Inc., the general contractor, will be installed next week.
Other unfinished items include cleaning tiled areas, replacing a motor used to circulate hot water, installing a door at one of the entrances, and installing missing screws for security purposes, Rio said.
Hardinger said he expected to have sufficient trucks and help tomorrow and Sunday to complete moving furniture and administrative items such as files.
Inmates will be moved into the wing in phases while renovations in the older portion of the jail are made, he said.
Problems with the new boilers were the latest in a series of delays that set back the expected completion date of the addition.
The project was stalled about eight years in the design stage and was further delayed soon after groundbreaking in March 1998 when excavators found tons of concrete and debris from 2 to 20 feet below the surface.
Additional changes in design -- items not specified in the original contract -- caused further delay.