Regional jail authority gets started

Preparation for construction of a regional jail to serve Rappahannock County as well as Warren and Shenandoah counties is moving ahead.

The jail is targeted to open in 2014 on a site north of I-66 in Warren County. Its purpose is to relieve overcrowding at the jails of the participating counties.

A regional jail authority is spearheading the project. Rappahannock County is represented on the authority by its sheriff, Connie C. Smith, County Administrator John W. McCarthy and Board of Supervisors Chairman Roger A. Welch. McCarthy is also serving as the jail authority’s treasurer.

At its most recent meeting on June 4 the authority appointed as its legal counsel the firm of Hefty and Wiley of Richmond and Davenport & Company of Richmond as its financial adviser. Warren County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley was appointed chairman of the authority. Shenandoah County Supervisor Conrad A. Helsley was elected vice chairman.

Certain other housekeeping measures, such as adoption of bylaws, were approved by the authority at its June 4 meeting, McCarthy said.

He said the authority wants to tap the skills of someone familiar with the structural and staffing needs of a jail to advise the authority and the architect as the project progresses “from the ground up.”

He said that Rapphannock County’s share of the regional jail project’s cost is about 7 percent — “pretty small potatoes.”

The authority can receive state funding for up to 50 percent of the jail’s construction costs.

The participating counties will be assessed a fee for the numbers of prisoners they send to the jail.

The jail is projected to cost approximately $68 million and have room for 375 inmate beds.

An outline for the project estimates completion of the jail’s design by September, start of construction by 2012 and opening of the facility in 2014.