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story.lead_photo.caption Western District Commissioner Roger Fischer rolls out a stack of documents containing plans for the county's new jail. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

On Wednesday morning, the Callaway County Commission accepted a bid to build the county's new jail, renovate parts of the sheriff's office and tear down the old jail housing area.

Little Dixie Construction, headquartered in Columbia, will head the project as the construction manager at-risk. Callaway County and Little Dixie agreed to a guaranteed maximum price of $18,979,754.

That number that includes $152,294 for tearing down the jail's old housing unit, which will become a gravel parking lot. The tear-down portion of the project also involves building a new wall.

"The project will not exceed this number unless we change the blueprints," said Gary Jungermann, Callaway County presiding commissioner.

The winning bid is higher than the $16.5-$17 million estimate cited by county officials in December. Jungermann said the jail will cost $412.70 per square foot, which he claimed is slightly lower than the average paid by other Missouri counties that have built jails recently.

"This is the maximum price — it could actually be less than this," Eastern District Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said.

Bidding for the project opened early last month and closed Dec. 17.

Jungermann said the county received two or three other bids from general contractors that were 5-10 percent higher than Little Dixie's winning bid.

As construction manager at-risk, Little Dixie will hire and pay subcontractors and will carry insurance for the project.

"The subcontractors are working for them and not for us," Jungermann said. "So if a subcontractor misconfigures something that's not our problem. It's between them and the subcontractor."

The new jail will have an all-new booking and housing area, Jungermann explained in December. It'll house up to 152 beds, two to each steel cell, plus an addition six work-release beds and a four-bed trustee dorm. Up to 30 female inmates will share two day-rooms; they'll be separated from male inmates and won't have to pass the men's dorms to reach other parts of the jail.

Jungermann said the new jail will feature improved security measures. From the "bubble" at the center of the housing area, corrections officers will be able to see right into every day room, which will also be equipped with cameras.

There will also be an area for video visitation, as well as one analog visitation room with a window. New padded cells will offer a safe place for inmates with mental health needs.

"If we would have a need (for more housing in the future), this facility will be built well, and it has an easy way to add on another portion of male housing if we need it," Jungermann said Wednesday.

Construction will begin in late March or April, depending on weather conditions, and is expected to take 18-20 months.

The architectural firm contracted by the county, HMN Architects, is currently wrapping up plans for the county's other major construction project, an all-new judicial center at Second and Market streets in Fulton, Jungermann said. Once those plans are completed, he plans to host an open house so members of the public can get a first peek at the designs for both structures.

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