Remodeling Work Reaches Midpoint At Jackson County Sheriff's Dept.

The sounds of hammers and drills combine into a symphony of progress at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Katrina washed nearly five feet of water into the old Jackson County Courthouse, submerging offices, swamping equipment, and leaving deputies without a place to work.

"The first three weeks after the storm we were on the front lawn of the courthouse. And since then, we have been in this double wide," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

Sheriff Byrd says work life has been pretty uncomfortable for his staff.

"We are pretty much busting at the seams, they have been working out of their patrol cars."

Before the first nail was driven, the county had to come up with the plans and the money to rebuild. Jackson County Supervisor Manly Barton says with FEMA involved, it was a long process.

"It's FEMA hurricane relief money. That's what we will be using to actually repair the $2.8 million of repair work.  Defining the scope of work, and getting that scope of work approved by FEMA was a fairly long process," Barton said.

Work is on schedule to turn the once flooded offices into a bigger and better law enforcement headquarters.

"The electrical all had to be replaced, all the drywall had be replaced, all the windows had to be replaced," Barton said.

"Tax Assessor's office, we acquired those offices, and so we are going to petition them off for a patrol office," Sheriff Byrd said.

The county also decided to move all the communication equipment up two floors to avoid flooding problems.

"It's going to better than what it was and more spacious."

County leaders want to put an extra generator and concrete wall outside the department, but officials say that project has to be approved by FEMA's Historical Committee. The sheriff's department should be completed by January 2008.