"The kitchen is much larger," Cox said, reflecting the doubling of jail space. The original kitchen was built to handle about 190 inmates, but the jail's population was never really down at that level.
"Before we ever opened, they double bunked almost all of the cells, which put it up to 300-plus inmates with a kitchen that was designed for only half that number," he said.
"This new kitchen is designed to take care of everything we have plus the 400-bed expansion. We built it large enough with the capacity to do the Meals on Wheels" for the Aging Services Division, he added.
"If they (Aging Services) want to, the space is there. The contract hasn't been let yet, but we understand money has been set aside for the equipment to be put in immediately," Cox said.
A larger, new laundry is also under construction to meet the expanded capacity. "The old kitchen is being demolished as we speak. That's where the new laundry will be," the Sheriff said.
The intake area also has been demolished and is in the process of being remodeled and reworked, he added.
"We're right on target. All the pre-cast cells are in place and the block on the jail expansion should be completely laid within two weeks. Then we will move to the jail intake area and start putting block on the remodeled area for intake," he said.
Some roof structures have already been completed, Cox said, with mechanical work to follow.
"We're still scheduled for late October" as far as completion, he said. "We can't hire the personnel until after the first of the year.
"We've been so full for so long, we may move some people over into the new area, after we go through it and make sure everything is OK. We may move people so we can do maintenance on the older cells.
"But as far as full operation, we will not be opening the jail officially until March," he em-phasized.
That time frame falls in line with the county commission's desire to hold off an average $35-a-year property tax in-crease needed to pay for additional personnel and maintenance costs for the larger facility.
Bonding for the old jail is due to be paid off this year, allowing for a "roll over" of bonding to the new facility's schedule. That will mean no change in property taxes.
Chief Deputy Kevin McLeod is serving as project manager for the Sheriff's office.