County supervisors and Sheriff Tim Saxon shovel dirt during groundbreaking ceremonies last week for the new county jail.

Trinity County supervisors, judges, law enforcement officers and many other staff members joined building crews, state agency representatives and members of the public for a ceremonial groundbreaking last week in Weaverville signifying the start of construction on Trinity County’s new 72-bed jail.

Speakers noted the county’s tenacity over the past several years in attaining the needed funding for the $20 million project through the California Board of State and Community Corrections to build a new, 21,000-square foot jail on county property west of the airport.

Past and present county supervisors and administrative officers were specifically thanked for their efforts to bring the project forward and congratulations were offered all around.

Sheriff Tim Saxon noted the new jail will replace the existing jail built in 1976 to house 24 inmates and remodeled in 1993 to accommodate 53. He said he looks forward to not only a state-of-the-art facility that improves the safety of staff and inmates alike, but also provides much needed space for new training, educational and vocational programs, mental health and medical services for inmates.

He expects the new jail “to serve the needs of Trinity County for many, many years to come.”

Director of Transportation Rick Tippett and County Administrative Officer Richard Kuhns are providing project oversight on the county’s behalf and noted all necessary clearances have been signed by the state, allowing funds to be spent and construction to begin.

Completion of the two-year project is anticipated by the fall of 2020. Sletten Construction, which has several offices in the Western states, is the contractor.

During last week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Tippett also received board authorization to enter an agreement with Lenders Construction Services, LLC of Eureka for up to $1,257,466 from jail construction funds to provide construction support services including inspections.

He said the Department of Transportation does not have adequate staffing and specific experience pertaining to jail construction to provide an appropriate level of construction inspections.

To protect the interest of the county and ensure a quality product, he said the services of a firm specializing in jail construction administration and inspection is required.

The original estimate for such services was $700,000 in the grant application submitted by former Sheriff Bruce Haney. A formal request for proposals was issued for the project in March, but there were none submitted.

Tippett said he then reached out to specifically solicit the interest of local firms and Lenders Construction Services was recommended to him. The firm is currently providing the same services for Humboldt County in construction of its juvenile detention facility.

The board authorized spending $700,000 for the services, recognizing further action will be required to cover the entire cost of the contract out of additional funding Tippett is seeking to acquire by the end of 2020.

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