County committee changes course on jail study
The Jail Study Committee met Monday to choose one of three companies to conduct a needs assessment study of the Hamblen County Jail. However, a last minute change might change who actually conducts the study, assuming the Hamblen County Commission approves it.
If approved, the study will be a comprehensive look into all of the workings of the jail.
Monday, County Commissioner Paul LeBel suggested separating the companies that conduct the study versus those that will consider the architectural design.
LeBel said he was concerned that if they are conducted by the same company, that company could use the study to its financial advantage. He explained that the company that conducts the study would have the fiscal advantage when it came to the option of whether or not a new jail is needed. If the company is connected to an architecture firm, they are more likely to lean toward building a new jail.
“It makes fiscal sense,” LeBel said.
A motion was made, and passed, to separate the jail study from the architectural design. Under LeBel’s proposal, the company that conducts the study can not be eligible to conduct the architecture.
“I’m talking to the proposers and explaining the caveat and letting them decide if they want to do (just) the needs assessment,” said Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain.
Brittain said if the companies that made proposals, and were interviewed by the commission last week, did not agree to the new arrangement; the next option would be to find other companies whose sole purpose is conducting needs assessment studies.
County Commissioner Tim Goins expressed concern about building versus utilizing vacant buildings already constructed.
“I do not think Hamblen County is ready (to build a new jail),” he said.
The commission was asked to rank the three final companies and they were ranked as:
Michael Brady Inc. with Treanor Architects
BarberMcMurry with Carter Goble Lee
Cope Architecture with Brown Pearman Russell
The next step will be for Brittain to speak to the companies, in the order they were ranked, to see if they are interested in conducting only the jail study.
If none of the companies are interested he said they will look nationally for a company that would be interested.
-By Aletheia Davidson, Tribune Staff Writer