New center is nearing completion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2001

If the Adams County Juvenile Justice Center is finished in five weeks, it will be on schedule for a fall opening.

&uot;If (the builder) says it’s going to be finished in five weeks that’s great,&uot; said John Hudson, the judge for Adams County Youth Court.

Harold West Contractors of Laurel began construction of the center in August 1999 and had planned to complete it in 14 months.

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With the project almost a year behind schedule, Hudson said he had projected months ago that it would be September before county officials could move into the building. The five-week estimate should make that possible, Hudson said.

Once completed, the center will hold detention space for juveniles plus all the office space needed for youth court and related activities.

&uot;We’ve been planning this for a long time and have been gradually moving in that direction,&uot; Hudson said. &uot;Hopefully by the time September gets here, we will be in a position to transition ourselves into that building.&uot;

The Adams County Board of Supervisors discussed the center’s progress during its Monday meeting, said Supervisor Darryl Grennell.

In addition to hearing an update on construction, the board also authorized a second change directive for the project, Grennell said.

A change directive allows the contractor to perform a few last-minute changes to the project with plans to negotiate the cost later.

To pay for the changes, which total about $7,000, the supervisors want to negotiate the expense with the contractor based on the terms of the contract, Grennell said.

Because the building is behind schedule, the board is entitled to $200 for each day the project is late – barring such uncontrollable problems such as weather.

Another matter facing the future of the center is its operation.

County officials have not decided how the detention component of the center will be operated.

Hudson has received approval from the Natchez Board of Aldermen for Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff to direct the center, with the help of an on-site administrator and detention officers.

He has also received a proposal from the members of a Pascagoula-based corrections company that would like to operate the center.

At this time, Hudson said both options are still open.

&uot;It’s not a question of favoring one option over the other at this point,&uot; he said.

Hudson said he still needs to look over some changes in the proposal provided by the correction company but he thinks both options are similar in structure.

He hopes county officials will make a decision &uot;as soon as we possibly can.&uot;