HLENA — While COVID-19 has affected construction and hiring for the Lewis and Clark Detention Center, the County says everything is still on schedule.
The virus has affected work from subcontractors not having enough workers, to materials not being manufactured to keep up with demand, but the county feels confident the contractor will meet the original deadline.
Inmates are expected to be transitioned from the upper floor down to the newly renovated space at the end of May.
“We’ve worked with the contractor to get people hired and get in there and trained,” said Sheriff Leo Dutton. “There’s several different aspects of this, the brick and mortar and having the people being able to operate it.”
The jail is aiming to increase the number of detention officers to 65 by the time the facility is fully operational later this year.
Dutton said coronavirus has delayed training for new detention officers from the law enforcement academy, and also slowed the hiring process.
“I’ll be a push, but I think the academy will be able to accommodate us,” explained Dutton. “That training will be an easier jump than it will be for us to get people hired. It’s taking awhile to do background checks and all of those kind of things. Making sure that someone is fit for the money that they‘re going to receive from the citizens who live here. So we’re hiring great people and the expectation is they make us better.”
The County says the construction of the jail remodel is still on budget and the building is expected to be fully operational in September.
The Lewis and Clark detention center implemented several new protocols and restrictions to prevent and limit the potential spread of COVID-19. To date there have been no positive COVID-19 tests associated with the jail.