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The Boone County Quorum Court formally accepted a bid for expanding the county jail when it met in regular monthly session Tuesday night.

The JPs passed an ordinance appropriating $1,756,041 for the project, amending the $1.5 million amount originally budgeted to meet the lowest bid on the project.

Last week, project architect Byron Emas told the Jail and Finance and Budget committees bids were received from only two contractors. The low bid was from L.E. Davis Construction, Inc. of Harrison at $1,756,041. The second was from Shields and Associates, Inc. of Little Rock at $1,799,000.

The quorum court earlier appropriated $1.5 million from the Jail Sales Tax Fund to meet Sheriff Mike Moore's request to add 10 isolation cells (each cell could house two prisoners) and a 25-bed barracks section.

The project was originally estimated to cost between $1.37 million and $1.5 million. That would be between $350 and $400 per square foot, the architect said. Based on the bids the cost per square foot would be about $474.

Some reasons for costs to be higher than anticipated could be that tariffs raised prices for materials, or subcontractors have plenty of work at the present time.

Options considered by the committees was to throw out both bids and try to bid at a less busy time for contractors, go to the low bidder and ask for help to reduce cost by renegotiating with subcontractors or reduce the scope of the project.

JP Bryan Snavely, chairman of the Jail Committee, encouraged the Finance and Budget Committee members to accept the apparent low bid, appropriate the additional money and build the jail addition as planned. He said voters supported the Jail Sales Tax for this purpose. He said the jail is needed for the safety of the county's citizens. The project would then be capped by the $1.75 million bid from Davis Construction.

The money would go to paying area businesses and labor. It would boost the local economy, a representative from Davis Construction added.

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