Florala prepares for bids on jail

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The City of Florala is a step closer to again having a jail of its own, and city leaders say they should soon be accepting bids on the project.

Councilwoman Ann Eason told the council the initial quote from the engineering and architectural side of the project sits at $17,800, with the next step in the process being obtaining bids on bringing the structure back into compliance with current building codes.

In February, Florala police chief Sonny Bedsole gave council members results from a feasibility study that showed re-opening the jail may initially cost the city some extra money annually. Bedsole said then that he believed that would change after the first year of operation.

During Monday’s meeting, Eason also expressed her desire to see the project completed.

“If it could be done reasonably, and we can pay it off in three to five years, I think it’s a good thing for Florala,” Eason said.

The councilwoman also referenced a way Bedsole told city leaders in February the city could benefit financially from having its own jail.

“There are a lot of people Sonny could put in there that aren’t paying what they owe the city, and they might pay if they knew they could be sitting in jail here,” Eason said.

“They know we aren’t going to send them to Andalusia for $31 a day,” Bedsole told council members last month, referencing the city’s daily cost of housing someone in the Covington County Jail. “Having a jail right here in town would give us some discretion about how long they stay in and that sort of thing.”

Eason said the engineering quote needed to be finalized before the city could move on into the bidding process for work to bring the jail up to code, and said the state fire marshal and health department would also have assess the structure in order to determine what work would have to be done.

Williamson said that process would likely be completed by the council’s next meeting on Mon., March 24.