TEXARKANA -- Miller County jail committee members met with consultants with the Collierville, Tenn.,-based Spirit Architecture firm Thursday to review drawings for expanding the county's lockup to hold about 60 more inmates.
The meeting was a first step toward finalizing architectural plans by late February, so that bids for the work can be submitted by early April to enable construction to start in June and the jail to be completed by the spring of 2023, said Miller County sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Lewis.
The firm's architects designated Lewis as the main point of contact as the project evolves.
Once construction starts, Mark Hammer, one of the firm's lead architects, said it could take eight to 10 months to complete.
County officials are planning to finance the jail expansion with $3.1 million to $3.5 million of the $4.2 million in covid-19 funds the county received earlier this year.
To keep the 7,000-square-foot expansion in sync with the existing correctional center's outside appearance, this proposed steel building's veneer will be painted the same color as the jail.
The building's interior will contain two sections with 24 cells apiece to collectively house 48 additional inmates. There will be no exterior windows.
Along with this structure, there will be another incarceration building that will be a fourth of the size and will hold 12 inmates in an area where medical services will be closer.
Hammer said Spirit Architecture will also be meeting with the Arkansas State fire marshal's office to make sure that both buildings are constructed in compliance with state fire safety regulations.
Hammer went on to say that he would see if the jail's current generator will be sufficient to handle the additional power load for the added space.
Jail committee chairman John Haltom said the county will need continuous cost updates from the construction contractor to ensure that the project stays within budget once work starts.
"Construction cost numbers will be the numbers we will need you to give us each month," Haltom said. "We are limited by our budget."