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Work on new Franklin Co. prison could start in two weeks

July 06, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Construction contracts totaling $24.1 million were awarded Tuesday by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and construction of the 470-bed prison could begin within two weeks.

The board awarded contracts to the low bidder in each case, with the general construction contract going to Alexander Building Construction LLC of Harrisburg, Pa., for $17,332,200. The county received three bids on the contract, the highest being approximately $18.4 million.

There were seven bids for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning at the 136,000-square-foot prison, with the contract going to Frey Lutz Corp. of Lancaster, Pa., for $2,328,000. Frey Lutz also submitted the winning bid for the prison's plumbing and fire suppression systems at $2,489,100.

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G.M. McCrossin Inc. of Bellefonte, Pa., was awarded the electrical contract on a bid of $1,997,921.

The county did not receive any bids on a fifth contract, for an elevator, which will be rebid, said Steven D. Ohm, project manager with Carter Goble Lee of Fayetteville, Ga. He estimated that would add about $60,000 to the cost of the building.

The budgeted amount for construction of the prison was $25 million, said Warden John Wetzel. Not covered in the contracts are "soft costs" such as furnishings and design, engineering and permitting fees, he said.

Ohm said he would notify the companies that submitted the winning bids and expected representatives of those firms will be "back here with contracts in hand" by Thursday. At that time, they will be given the notice to proceed on the project, which is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2007, Wetzel said.

Last year, the board approved a $39 million bond issue, $30 million of which was set aside for a new prison. The bond issue also included $5 million for farmland preservation and $4 million for a new public safety radio system for the county.

County inmates are housed in a main prison building on Franklin Farm Lane built in the early 1970s and a prison annex next door that was built in the early 1990s. Wetzel said the rated capacity for the two buildings is about 200 prisoners, but about 350 were being held Tuesday.

The new prison will be constructed on Opportunity Avenue within the Cumberland Valley Business Park on land that was formerly part of Letterkenny Army Depot. Earlier this year, the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, which runs the park, transferred the 19.3-acre parcel to the county for $1.

At the time of the transfer, it was announced that the county and development authority would split the estimated $3.5 million cost of extending utilities and Opportunity Avenue to the prison site.

Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said he had never seen bids on a project of this size come in under budget and so close to estimates.

The cost of the prison still will be about $68,000 per bed, Wetzel said. The plans call for seven cellblocks - three for the general population, one for women, one for inmates who work within the prison, another for prisoners on work release and a restricted housing unit.

Each block will have 32 cells for 64 inmates arranged around a common area. There also will be an eight-cell medical unit, according to the plans.

One step the county is taking to prevent the new prison from being overcrowded is a day reporting center, said Wetzel. Once opened, the center will allow some criminal offenders to receive drug testing, treatment, job training and other services during the day while being allowed to live at home.

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