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Editorial: Progress finally made for new Allen Parish jail

Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 6:59 PM

Plans for a new Allen Parish jail have been a long time coming.

Make that a long, long, long time coming — as in three delays just to award the contract.

Parish officials have been working on plans for the new jail since 2002, but problems with funding and disputes over the location and contracts have postponed progress.

The bid opening was ultimately delayed three times, as well. The bids were scheduled to be opened in September but were delayed because of conflicts with the bid law; the second delay was at the end of October when addendums had to be made to the bid documents. The opening was delayed a third time on Nov. 12 because of issues with electrician contracts.

On Friday, Allen Parish finally picked a winner. Lake Arthur’s Trahan Construction will build the new 150-bed facility. The company’s low bid was one of four taken under advisement after the initial bids came in over budget.

The new facility will replace the overcrowded and outdated 42-bed jail near the parish courthouse in downtown Oberlin.

“For over a decade Allen Parish has needed a new jail,” Sheriff Doug Hebert III said. “A lot of people have done a lot of hard work to make this happen and get a plan which we could make work and suit our needs to solve our problems.”

The Police Jury spends nearly $270,000 a year housing inmates in other facilities because of the lack of space.

Plans for the new jail call for construction of a two-story facility that woud include a 150-bed parish jail and administrative offices on about six acres.

Preliminary dirt work for the project is expected to begin in the next 60 days, weather permitting.

The project would take 12 months to complete, Hebert said.

Plans for a 120-bed remand facility have been put on the back burner to keep the project under budget.

“We can always build it (remand facility) in the future if the money ever allows,” Hebert said.

Let’s hope if that ever happens, history doesn’t repeat itself in the planning process.

  • • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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