June 27, 2022

Expansion of law enforcement center under discussion

Supervisors take step in annex building issue

What to do with the Jasper County Annex Building? That was once again the topic of conversation during the board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

Absent from discussion since it last appeared on the board’s agenda in late February, board chair Doug Cupples began talks by revealing what the board has been working on during the past few months.

“We have been doing some research and doing some different things, and I know each of the three of us have had different avenues and things we have tried to do,” Cupples said.

Cupples’ first suggestion was to explore commissioning contractors to go in to the annex basement and begin forming bids on work they would complete. The basement and foundation have been the areas of focus since April of last year when a mold study yielded a recommendation of mold remediation for the home care aide’s office in the basement.

An assessment of the building’s exterior foundation also was completed in June with the recommendation of a complete foundation excavation and waterproofing.

Supervisor Joe Brock countered saying government operations are up and running throughout the county and he would like to continue to look at a recent proposal to add on to the Jasper County Law Center.

“I would like, over the summer, to meet with judicial and everyone involved and at least have our numbers and our possibilities out at the law enforcement center,” Brock said. “By the end of the summer have something we can pass on to the next board.”

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said the county owns the land around the law center and an idea has been proposed to add on to the building to house county offices, and potentially, the court system and county attorneys.

“There are a lot of pros and cons. For us individually, there would be some advantages because it would be directly attached as far as safety and transport,” Halferty said. “We do own the ground there, there is room there, but I think it begs for further meetings and discussion.”

He said the idea is in its infancy and needs further discussion before anything concrete is presented.

Brock continued to hold firm he does not support putting employees back in the annex basement because he does not believe it is fit for use. He also wants to continue exploring additional options for the county rather than putting any funds into the annex building.

“I think we have plenty of time. Everything is up and running, and I hate to put false deadlines that we have to get something done in a certain time,” Brock said. “Sometimes it takes some time. I think we better slow down and look at all of the possibilities, at least know our numbers.”

Taking a different stance, supervisor Denny Carpenter said the board has looked at eight possible buildings and every time they keep coming back to annex building. With fiber optic infrastructure already in the building and its proximity to the courthouse, he is leaning towards exploring the possibility of fixing the water infiltration issue.

“If you don’t fix this water problem, it is going to affect the rest of the building. You can’t just put this off, and put this off, and stall and stall and stall. You have to fix it or it is going to affect the rest of the building,” Carpenter said. “If there is a mold issue from this water, it is going to go right through the rest of the building.”

When asked about the foundation, county maintenance director Adam Sparks said the part that was exposed is in bad shape, although he does not know the status of the entire foundation.

“The red brick, half of that red brick is gone,” Sparks said. “The skim coats deteriorated to the point of if you touch it it’s sand.”

In a compromise, Cupples suggested Shive-Hattery, the county’s engineering firm, return to the building and view the open area to gain further insight on work that will need to be done. Sparks said with the previous investigation completed, Shive-Hattery only assessed the exterior of the building and made educated assumptions on the condition of the interior of the walls.

“If they come in they will see the same thing we see, how bad (of shape) it’s in. If we don’t expose the rest of the walls, then everybody is guessing,” Sparks said. “Guessing will get you in trouble, maybe, if their guess is wrong. Nobody knows.”

The board ended the discussion by agreeing to have Shive-Hattery return to the annex building to complete further investigations, and Cupples tasked Brock with bringing back a more complete plan for an expansion at the law center by June 5.

“I think it is time to do something with the annex building,” Cupples said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com