Contractor selected for jail upgrades

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Austin County commissioners unanimously selected Giddings-based Gaeke Construction as the construction manager at risk for jail renovations.

The decision came during a Nov. 3 special meeting, following a lengthy discussion weighing pros and cons of Gaeke and Sedalco Construction, the only two companies to submit proposals for the project.

A large deciding factor in the decision was the cost: Gaeke requested 3.9 percent of construction costs, and Fort Worth-based Sedalco asked for 9.5 percent. Commissioners weighed each company’s experience, location, personnel, references and cost.

“The big heavy hitters in this situation for y’all are fee and experience,” said architect Kenny Burns, who was hired in late September to assist in overseeing the project.

Burns pointed out that Sedalco built the Austin County Jail addition and their employees have a working knowledge of the local facility, “which is something no one else is going to have.”

“Sedalco has done more and they have a relationship with you,” he added.

But Gaeke’s lower fee and closer proximity to Austin County seemed to seal the deal, and commissioners ended up ranking Gaeke with 100 points and Sedalco with 80.

Commissioner Doug King made the motion to enter a contract with Gaeke, which was seconded by Mark Lamp and approved by the entire panel.

A cost estimate and detailed information about renovations has not been released.

An immediate necessity is to remediate mold in the jail. Once the mold was detected, Sheriff Jack Brandes created a temporary fix whereby intake and booking is done from a temporary trailer and jailers transport inmates to Fort Bend County at a cost of $55 per head per day, which translates into about $400,000 over a six-month period.

According to Burns’ report issued in September, it would take more than two years to design and construct a brand new facility. A 96-bed jail and sheriff’s office would cost about $19 million to $21 million, while a 144-bed jail and sheriff’s office would cost up to $24 million.

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