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County trims $300K from Riverton justice center project; work to begin next week

Jun 18, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Commissioners eliminated a decorative entrance, four security cameras and electronic card-reading door locks.

Facing a budget overrun, the Fremont County Commission pared down the Riverton justice center project at a meeting Tuesday. The commissioners later signed a contract that included the final reductions.

Construction bids opened May 22 were $500,000 higher than expected. In response, the county board unanimously approved about $332,000 in cost-saving measures, including eliminating four security cameras, using mechanical door locks rather than electronic card-reading ones, and removing some heaters.

The largest change was eliminating decorative steel structures around the front entrance, which would have cost $103,000. Commissioners, however, are asking the architect to design a more modest ornamentation for the door, such as an awning, indicating some cost could be added back in.

"It certainly won't be $100,000; it might be in the realm of $5,000 to $10,000 versus the $100,000 we're at now," Commissioner Travis Becker said.

The project's total cost was projected to be more than $5.4 million before the cuts, meaning it should be about $5.1 million now.

Roughly $44,000 will be saved by returning to the architect's original plan that called for a coated foam product to be used above 8 feet on the exterior walls. Commissioners had decided to use concrete block all the way up out of a concern that birds could dig holes in the foam.

Cutting a smoke-clearing system from the inmate-holding area will save about $50,000. In the case of fires, the device would clear smoke out of secure areas that prisoners cannot escape from on their own.

The City of Riverton decided that because inmates are not to be held overnight in the justice center, the smoke-clearing system was not necessary to meet building codes. Without the device, Fremont County Sheriff's Office deputies would be responsible for helping the inmates exit the building in case of a fire.

Commissioners decided against two proposed cuts: using cheaper carpet and trading LED exterior lights for less expensive ones.

"I don't want to downgrade the carpet so in 10 years or five years J.R. (Oakley, county building maintenance supervisor) is coming in here and saying, 'The carpet in the justice center is going bad and we need new,'" Commission chairman Doug Thompson said.

Other county board members agreed.

The move would have saved about $10,000.

Cutting the LED lights would have saved $14,000 but the maintenance and energy costs would have been higher, commissioners heard. They decided to keep the more expensive bulbs and fixtures.

Commissioners signed a final contract with contractor L.M. Olson later that day.

In an interview, Becker said L.M. Olson plans to start construction next week.

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