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Jackson County probes money used for institute repair
Paving and airport upgrades questioned
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Interim Jackson County Manager Leonard Myers is evaluating money spent on the former I.W. Davis Correctional Institute's transformation into the Jackson County Correctional Institute.

The report requested by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners is to be presented at the board's meeting Monday.

Commissioner Tom Crow asked fellow commissioners to support a motion calling for an investigation into some of the actions of former County Manager Darrell Hampton. Spending on the correctional institution is one of the areas in question.

At a meeting on April 18, Crow's motion to have Myers launch the investigation received unanimous support. Hampton opted to resign rather than respond to questions about the correctional institute project and other actions, Crow said.

Another aspect of the investigation is what Crow said led to the forced resignation of former road department head Larry Guthrie.

According to Jackson County's financial reports, $592,892.36 was spent for the correctional institute in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the majority of the expense coming in 2010.

The front section of the correctional institute was used as a temporary relocation site for the Jackson County Senior Center while renovations on the existing facility on General Jackson Drive were under way. A $500,000 Community Development Block Grant funded much of the senior center project. That award came during a previous interim tenure for Myers, who said last week he recalls suggesting the then-vacant former state correctional institute could be used to house the senior center activities during the renovation project.

Myers has been the go-to guy when Jackson County has been in the hunt for a new county manager. He is now in his third stint as interim county manager. He served prior to Hampton's hiring.

Some upgrades were needed for the senior center to occupy a portion of the correctional institute; however, Myers is reviewing why $600,000 was spent without the requests coming before the board of commissioners.

County Commission Chairman Hunter Bicknell said last week "to the best of my memory I do not recall the (commissioners) voting on the restoration work at I.W. Davis."

The commission had approved a requested change in the contract with the state for lease of the correctional institute that would credit toward purchase of Jackson County's lease payments, renovations, repairs and insurance. Hampton had presented that item before the commission during the 2011 session of the General Assembly. State Rep. Tommy Benton was presenting the matter in Atlanta.

For project management for the I.W. Davis facility, Jackson County paid $51,680.05 in fiscal year 2010 and another $22,240.39 in fiscal 2011 for a total of $73,920.44. Engineering and architectural services amounted to $12,891.55 in fiscal 2010.

Don Clerici of BM&K is the consultant for the county's capital projects.

In fiscal 2010, improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems were made at a cost of $110,436.65. Another $378.73 was spent in fiscal 2011. For repairs to the water heater, $57,049.54 was paid out in fiscal 2010. The two-year tally for deferred maintenance was $70,914.67.

A major cost for the correctional institute was construction of segregation cells, totaling $192,907.01. Upgrade of security amounted to $21,904.36 for magnetic locks while inmate lockers cost $25,344.

Moving expenses charged to the correctional institute account of the county's general fund totaled $9,876.91, with $8,992.56 coming in fiscal 2010.

After April 18, Crow said the commission should have had the opportunity to determine when the work on the correctional institute was done, suggesting some of the projects may have been delayed until the county's financial situation improved.

Efforts to recoup from the state some of the funds expended for the I.W. Davis facility may be pursued as Myers indicates perhaps the facility should have been in better shape prior to the contract with the state being finalized.

Spending on other projects, including paving and airport upgrades, also are being questioned.