Churchill County breaks ground on Law Enforcement Center

Sletten Companies Corrections, the Churchill County Commissioners and other officials hosted the official ground-breaking ceremony for the new Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday morning.

Representatives from the county as well as from the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and the Attorney General’s Office were handed silver shovels to commemorate the official beginning of the construction phase of the project. Construction is estimated to be complete by December 2017.

Commissioner Pete Olsen began the ceremony by thanking several people/organizations involved with the project including fellow commissioners Carl Erquiaga and Bus Scharmann and several other parties who were invited to speak before the ground-breaking.

“One of the things we have to remember in our community — the most basic thing that we provide as government to our citizens is public safety. This facility is going to be able to give our sheriff department, police department, judicial branch, district court and justice of the peace the resources they need to provide that safety,” Olsen said. “We have a very safe community now and we want to continue that tradition.”

The commissioners on June 18, approved a bid of $15,245,911 to Sletten Construction in cooperation with the team from Arrington Watkins Architects for the construction. The funding for the project is a 32-year loan from the USDA of Rural Development at an interest rate of 2.75 percent, borrowed money according to Olsen, who added that Wells Fargo will fund the construction process until the USDA takes over.

The project began officially in 2008 with the Criminal Justice Committee which researched over the years to come up with a plan, and the county committed two years ago to go forward with a Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) plan for the center. The CMAR process begins by finding a contractor and an architect; which was Sletten Companies Corrections and their 20-year partner Arrington Watkins Architects who planned the facility along with Churchill County Sheriff Ben Trotter and several other departments. “Everybody had a voice in how this went together and it took a couple of years to get to this day where we have a solid plan,” Olsen said, detailing several aspects of the building process including modular cells constructed outside the facility and brought in afterward — a common process in construction which he said provides extra room at less of an investment. Of the 39,000 square feet located at 180 West ‘A’ Street, the center will initially house 120 beds, medical cells and several other amenities according to Special Assistant Attorney General Patty Cafferata, who commended the commissioners and the county in this endeavor on behalf of the Attorney General Adam P. Laxalt.

With additional square footage designated as a recreation area for inmates until a need for an expansion to the maximum 140 beds, the space is far exceeding the current jail’s maximum capacity according to Trotter.

“There’s a lot of laws regarding jails we are not able to accomplish in our current facility to stay within the rules,” Trotter said, commenting that the one holding cell in current facility, with 8 beds for females and 44 beds for males. “This new jail will have the potential to put 30-40 people in holding and not even in general population.”

Principal Architect Peter F. Sangiorgio from Arrington Watkins Architects was among the many officials at the ground breaking to commend Trotter and his department for their involvement in the planning stages.

“His team has been one of the best teams to work with,” Sangiorgio said. “They really understood how many dollars the county had to spend and were fiscally responsible and very accommodating. I would say two keywords throughout all phases of this project. ‘Team, team, team’ and ‘Communication, communication, communication,’ From day one this has been a team which came together, and this is the result.”

Cliff Van Woert, the Churchill County Building Official involved with the initial team, said the CMAR process better calculated the $15,245,911 bid.

“Using the CMAR you can actually find your prices better than a regular design bid project,” Van Woert said. “So when the subcontractors contracts come in we can choose the best value for the county/project, and since it’s a guaranteed maximum price, it can’t go over.”

Sarah Adler, the Nevada state director from the USDA Rural Development, said she also felt the maximum price determined is the best possible because of CMAR and other reasons.

“The other reason is our interest rate and really it’s very clear to me the public purpose of the funds being available at a slightly subsidized rate,” Adler said. “It’s our job at USDA Rural Development to bring capital access to rural communities to finance critically necessary communities. You cannot be a county without a law enforcement center, it’s not an option.”

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