Jail project nears end

Renovation wraps up Ward County Jail improvements

Jill Schramm/MDN A new booking area in the original Ward County Jail was created with the renovation of a former laundry and office area.

Ward County’s estimated $37 million jail expansion and renovation project is nearly complete.

Some floor tiling and other minor items in the original jail are all that remain to finish the full project that began in the spring of 2016, according to Sheriff Bob Barnard. The jail addition opened last November, taking its first inmates in December. Work has been ongoing to remodel the older portion, built in the early 1980s.

The renovation is ahead of its projected January 2019 completion date.

The original jail is in use, except for the inmate cells. Barnard said the cells can be put into use once the county receives written authorization from the North Dakota Department of Corrections, which recently inspected the jail and issued a positive report.

The original jail had a 104-inmate capacity, but the facility has been restructured to house 90 inmates. The cell area was not renovated but shower updates were made and a fire-suppressant sprinkler system added.

AP Photo A medical examination room is part of a newly renovated medical suite in the original portion of the Ward County Jail.

The jail expansion side can house up to 200 inmates.

“Because the efficiency of the new portion is greater, the majority of the population will be housed on the new side,” Barnard said.

Current jail occupancy is about 122. The county is investigating a potential contract to be able to take federal prisoners.

Some cells in the original facility will lend themselves to housing inmates who need to be nearer the medical offices, Barnard said. The jail has a new, larger area for medical exams and medication storage.

The original building also has a renovated booking area, control room, an inmate holding room and spaces for bond companies and attorneys to conduct business with inmates. There is an improved sallyport and new employee lockerroom and breakroom space. Jail administration has moved into the former sheriff’s department, which has new quarters in the connected jail expansion.

The Ward County Commission expects to have final costs on the jail improvements by mid-October from project manager Adolfson & Peterson Construction.

Commissioner Chairman Alan Walter said indications are that there will be around $300,000 in unspent contingency money when the project is completed. However, the commission voted Tuesday to use some of the money to remove a rooftop cooling tower that’s no longer needed.