Jail work expected to be completed in months

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 14, 2001

McGuffie Steel employees, from left, Stanley Newton, Greg Sanderford and Bobby Leach tighten steel roofing beams to a column on the roof of the Warren County Jail.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[12/14/01]The steel-beam framework is complete for the roof being built over the Warren County Jail, and contractors expect to have long-awaited improvements to the building completed in about nine months.

The last of the beams went up Wednesday, said construction superintendent Gerald Craig of Jackson’s Mayrant and Associates.

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The jail, on Grove Street between Adams and Cherry streets, is getting its most visible improvement on its Adams Street side. The two-story structure finished in 1977 beside the old jail building houses the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and virtually all cell blocks. It has had its flat roof repaired many times but never replaced, Sheriff Martin Pace said. The roofs over both parts of the jail have leaked for years and been a source of complaints by county officials and grand juries.

The new jail is now getting a higher, peaked, metal roof that will create a new attic-like space above its second story. The million-dollar cost is about half the total cost of building the jail 24 years ago.

“The new roof was an absolute necessity,” Pace said. “We are raising it enough that there will be space under the roof so that a third floor could be constructed at a later date.”

The older, Cherry Street side of the building, completed in 1906, is also having its roof replaced, Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George said. And the jail is having restoration done to the stonework around its faces, among other smaller improvements.

Inside the jail, operations continue as usual, Pace said.

“None of this has affected or will affect operations inside the building,” Pace said. “All services continue to operate at full scale. The construction is going on above the building and not in the building.”

The construction has caused brief traffic delays and reroutings on Grove and Adams streets in recent weeks, during which times traffic has been guided by flagmen, Pace said. The delays were mainly for deliveries of the steel beams that are now in place, Pace said.

The crane being used to hang the steel beams, by Vicksburg’s McGuffie Steel, was removed Wednesday after a stay of three-and-a-half weeks, rain having delayed the hanging of the beams for much of the early part of that time, Craig said.

The contract for the building improvements, approved by the Warren County Board of Supervisors in July, is worth $1,165,450.

The jail can permanently house 128 prisoners. Its older section sits on land used for previous jails as early as the 1850s.