Jackson Co. Supervisors take their chances on new jail architect

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Supervisors have now hired their third architect to build the new jail in Pascagoula. The current jail is old and has been, at times, overcrowded. The board fired the first two firms, one due to lack of confidence in work and the other due to allegations of unauthorized actions during the bidding process.

"We have to ask people to believe us one more time on this jail," supervisor Troy Ross said.

Supervisors will try for the third time to make the county's $30 million jail construction plan a reality soon.

"I think hiring Burk-Klienpeter-Lunsford Engineers and Architects is a key point to moving forward," Supervisor Mike Mangum said.

The board members assert the new team has been a long time consultant on the project and is very familiar with the old jail and what they want in a new one.

"I think we will stick with this architect or I believe we will. We never know what is going to happen tomorrow, but I am glad we are in the position we are in now," Supervisor Barry Cumbest said.

That has not always been the case for supervisors. So far, more than $3 million in taxpayer dollars have gone to architects that ended up being fired.

"Over the 12 or 14 years of the saga, I believe there was some money wasted. With this change, we are able to keep original budget. So, the money we were going to end up spending is what we would have spent if we kept the same architect, if we wouldn't have fired him," Ross said.

County supervisors plan to use the 700-800 bed jail design from the previous architect to also help stay on budget.

"We should be able to get right back on track and keep moving. I know it is good to get this project going the best part is when it will be over," Cumbest said.

If everything can finally go according to plan, Jackson County Supervisors said they will rebid this project next month and begin construction early next year.

"If we don't break ground with an official contractor by January, the board of supervisors will get shovels and will go dig some dirt up on our own," Cumbest said.

The new firm is being paid more than $720,000 to complete the project.

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