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Plan gels for new jail

Bureau County Board OKs $11.9 million contract after tweaking plans

The former Bureau County Republican building in Princeton, which was purchased by Bureau County as a proposed site for a new jail.
The former Bureau County Republican building in Princeton, which was purchased by Bureau County as a proposed site for a new jail.

PRINCETON — With plans revised and construction of a kitchen addition eliminated, Bureau County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a contractor to create a new sheriff’s office and jail in an existing building.

When bids for the new law enforcement center on the north side of Princeton came in much higher than expected last month, project plans were tweaked and the venture was rebid.

Tuesday, Bob Albrecht, a member of the county board building and grounds committee, reported the lowest bid, from Vissering Construction of Streator, came in at $11.9 million. The cost is slightly more than the county wanted to spend. However, no longer requiring an addition onto the former Bureau County Republican building, the bid still came in much lower than the original bids that ranged from $17 million to $19 million.

Following the meeting, Bureau County Sheriff Jim Reed expressed his enthusiasm to move forward with the project.

Reed said the idea of a new jail has been discussed for many years and by several boards, but until now has never come to fruition.

He said a groundbreaking date will be scheduled — if weather permits, sometime this fall.

The reasons for the original bids being so high for this project were discussed last month by Henry Pittner, representative of the architecture firm BKV Group, which is overseeing this project.

Those reasons included inflation, increased labor costs and the high cost of precast concrete. He also said only four manufacturers in the U.S. do prison construction work at this scale, which means they could charge a premium for their services.

What are the changes?

Reed and his staff were forced to sit down with an architect and revise the original plans to better suit the project cost.
In the tweaked design, there will be four fewer jail beds and a redesigned kitchen area, which eliminates the need for an addition for the kitchen area.
The reconfiguration stems from the BuEComm 911 center no longer moving out to the law enforcement center at this time. During this planning, BuEComm learned it would be getting an upgraded phone system, and moving it would cost the county an extra $40,000.
Therefore, the decision was made to keep BuEComm in its current location, which is adjacent to the Princeton Police Department. Reed said it is possible BuEComm could move into the center at a later time.

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