Local dignitaries, politicians, law enforcement, and Grayson County Detention Center (GCDC) leadership were on hand Tuesday morning for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the detention center expansion project.
The process of adding over 33,000 square feet, 199 beds, a new intake/booking area, laundry, medical and office space, public entry and visitation spaces to the existing facility began in earnest in August 2017 when the state approved the GCDC’s expansion plans.
The expansion will enable the female jail facility to be moved to the primary GCDC campus on Shaw Station Road, and will add 20 to 25 new jail employees to the payroll. Female inmates are currently incarcerated at the female facility in the Grayson County Government Building on East White Oak Street, in Leitchfield.
“We’re just happy to get this addition going,” ebullient Grayson County Jailer Jason Woosley said. “Not only to increase revenue, but we want to expand on our programs and education department and opportunities for inmates, especially female inmates, which they’ve been lacking for a while simply because of a (lack) of space.”
Moving the female jail population to the Shaw Station Road facility will now put Woosley and his staff in a position to more positively effect change in some inmates’ lives by offering a variety of life-skills programs not offered previously. Something Woosley takes very seriously.
“We’re hoping to change some lives and maybe save some lives in the process,” Woosley said. “I’ve always said you can’t change the person until you change their mindset. Having the programs that we have here is part of that (changing a person’s mindset). And we can’t do it without the programs. It’s a training process that takes time.”
Woosley put the project on hold in November 2018 after construction bids well-exceeded the expected cost of the expansion, with the least expensive bid being about $5 million more than the anticipated $14 million cost of the project.
Woosley told magistrates at the time that he was putting the project “on hold until we decide something, and I’m not in a hurry,” to push to the project forward. Magistrates and Judge-Executive Kevin Henderson, who were fully supportive of Woosley and the project from the outset, were understanding and supported the jailer re-evaluating the project’s plans.
Woosley and his staff then went to work restructuring the expansion by eliminating about 10,000 square feet from the plans. Woosley said he eliminated “some office and storage space” and one of the most expensive facets of the expansion, a kitchen. He said the current kitchen is large enough to serve the nearly 200 additional inmates, but that more appliances will likely have to be purchased.
Also eliminated from the expansion plans were a pre-engineered metal building, classroom and recreation yard. The alterations made to the expansion plans allowed the project to check in at about $12.5 million.
When the expansion is complete, the GCDC will have well over 700 beds, not only allowing the female facility to move to Shaw Station Road, but also allowing Woosley to house an additional “50 to 60” federal inmates, for which the GCDC receives $55 per day.
It’s estimated that the construction phase of the expansion will take about 18 months.
(Headline photo: GCDC staff breaking ground)
By Ken Howlett, News Director
Contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-259-6000