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New Richmond County sheriff's office to be built

Commission votes 6-4 to approve Walton Way site

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 6:31 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 1, 2010 7:18 PM
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Despite efforts by several south Augusta commissioners to steer it toward a former furniture store on Gordon Highway, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office's new administration building will go up on city-owned property at Walton Way and Fourth Street.

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

The Augusta Commission voted 6-4, with Commissioners Don Grantham, J.R. Hatney, Bill Lockett and Jimmy Smith dissenting, to build on what now is a parking lot for the existing jail and administration building at 401 Walton Way.

That building, rife with leaks and mold, will be razed and the inmates transferred to the Charlie B. Webster Detention Center on Phinizy Road.

After an 18-month search, City Administrator Fred Russell and Sheriff Ronnie Strength narrowed the choices to two, and "both sites work," Russell said in a presentation to commissioners Tuesday. Strength said "we can adjust to either site."

However, when pressed to pick one, Russell and Strength went with the Walton Way site, largely because of its proximity to the new judicial center.

Commissioners J.R. Hatney and Jimmy Smith disagreed, saying putting the department's offices in the former Smartway building in Southgate Shopping Center would be a boon for south Augusta.

"We need more police presence than we have," Hatney said.

"That area out there has suffered," Smith said.

Remodeling Smartway would have taken less time -- 212 days -- than building a new facility, which is expected to take 365 days, the sheriff said. Moving personnel into the strip mall building would take about a year, as opposed to two years for a new building.

The project will be funded with $9 million in special purpose local option sales tax funds, Russell said, and the total cost for each site was roughly the same -- $9.16 million for Smartway and $9.09 million for a new building.

Several commissioners, however, disputed those estimates by Heery International, the project manager for sales tax projects.

E.G. Meybohm, who wanted to sell the Smartway building to the city, contended that the total cost there, including remodeling and asbestos removal, would be about $5 million, according to Smith.

Commissioner Joe Bowles questioned the agreed-to sale price, however, pointing out that the last time it changed hands it was for $792,000.

"Why in the world would we even entertain $1.8 million to buy that?" Bowles said. "Sounds like somebody's making a hefty profit."

Staff Writer Johnny Edwards contributed to this article.

Comments (60) Add comment
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countyman
22762
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countyman 02/16/10 - 07:37 pm
0
0
I definitely don't agree. The

I definitely don't agree. The Southgate Shopping Center was a better choice. South Augusta needs to get rid of Jimmy Smith. What has he done for South Augusta?

Junket831
0
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Junket831 02/16/10 - 07:59 pm
0
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Johnny, which commissioners

Johnny, which commissioners voted for and which voted against? It would be nice to hear why they voted on the current location as opposed to alternatives.

Augusta resident
1370
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Augusta resident 02/16/10 - 08:06 pm
0
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Southgate is old as dirt. Why

Southgate is old as dirt. Why move from one old place to another? Go agead and figure on spending double or more that the 9.9 million though.

corgimom
46311
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corgimom 02/16/10 - 08:12 pm
0
0
You could retrofit Southgate,

You could retrofit Southgate, and then you'd have an old, decaying property that was retrofitted, far from the Courthouse and the Jail. It costs a lot of money to transport prisoners. Across from 401, near the Courthouse, near the Jail, near the attorneys' offices, is by far the better choice. Good common sense from the Commissioners! It's refreshing!

RoadkiII
6830
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RoadkiII 02/16/10 - 08:14 pm
0
0
At least it will provide a

At least it will provide a few jobs during construction.

countyman
22762
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countyman 02/16/10 - 08:16 pm
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Have any of you been to

Have any of you been to Southgate lately? The smartway building is not decaying.

jb1234
0
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jb1234 02/16/10 - 08:20 pm
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Countyman, it would be a LOT

Countyman, it would be a LOT better to spend the $9 million on a brand new custom built building than it would to spend it on renovating an already old building.

TrukinRanger
1767
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TrukinRanger 02/16/10 - 08:51 pm
0
0
If the officers are going to
Unpublished

If the officers are going to be out there rounding up our thugs... at least let them have a nice place to start & end their work days as well as everyday office work. They deserve it.

jasonpilgrim
0
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jasonpilgrim 02/16/10 - 08:58 pm
0
0
Where will the 9.9 million

Where will the 9.9 million come from??

disssman
6
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disssman 02/16/10 - 09:04 pm
0
0
Just where is there enough

Just where is there enough property in that location to build a 10 million dollar building? Further, what makes us think they will treat it any different than the building they are in? What a bunch of idiots live in this city. Anything the "stakeholders" want is given to them on a silver platter, no questions asked. I know what they plan. There is no land so they will just build on top of the exosting building. What the commission should have done is had an investigation as to why the sheriffs office let a multi-million dollar building get in such shape. I still maintain that the total piping (if done by a company not in Augusta) could be replaced at a very low price. The moisture problem could be cleaned and dehumidifiers installed for a low cost also. But from the comments above, the taxpayers overwhelmingly want to waste money on a new barrel of pork. Who wants to bet the ultimate price is more like 18-20 million?

pointstoponder
1363
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pointstoponder 02/16/10 - 09:07 pm
0
0
The $9 million is in SPLOST

The $9 million is in SPLOST and was approved by the voters. The site is across Walton Way from the current building.

jb1234
0
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jb1234 02/16/10 - 09:19 pm
0
0
Hey disssman, there's this

Hey disssman, there's this new futuristic technology that actually allows buildings to be constructed with multiple levels, this allows for a building to actually have a large square footage while maintaining a rather small footprint on the Earth's surface. Insane isn't it?! The reason why the current LEC is in the shape it's in is due to (A) the building being 30 years old, and (B) the building likely being constructed with shotty materials by a less-than-reputable contractor under the direction of the city government eager to keep construction costs at a minimum, even if it meant compromising the building's longevity.

corgimom
46311
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corgimom 02/16/10 - 09:15 pm
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A building that has sat empty

A building that has sat empty and unheated and uncooled, and not maintained, no problem. 50+ year old plumbing and wiring? No problem. Copper pipes? No problem. Lead pipes? No problem. Of course, none of that meets current code, but hey, what do I know? And the lead paint and asbestos would not be a problem, either. I've been in Smartway Furniture, it was decaying when it was Smartway Furniture, and that was 15 years ago. It doesn't take long- as in months- for a building to start decaying when it is not maintained or heated and cooled. Being as how I'm so much older than Countyman, I know that, along with most everyone on here.

corgimom
46311
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corgimom 02/16/10 - 09:17 pm
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0
Disss, I'm not following you

Disss, I'm not following you here. If it's to be built across the street from 401, how could it be built on top of the existing building?

disssman
6
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disssman 02/17/10 - 07:19 am
0
0
You know what JB1234 that

You know what JB1234 that sounds just like the building they are going to tear down and replace. Now the question of the day is if the courts are worjing maybe 3 days a week just how much does it cost to put prisoners on a bus in the morning and take them off at night? BTW my house is older than 30 years, does that mean I need to tear it down? Further, the guy who built it was appointed to a very hansome paid position. If it was built shoddy, why is he there? Third we have had no evaluation, or inspection of the existing facility to find out what the problem is. So your assumption that because it is 30 years old or MAYBE built with shoddy materials is what to be expected from an uneductated ,no strike that, an Augusta educated lemming. Just follow what ever a politician says and never question it. That is why this city is, and will always be, a plum, ripe for picking for some "stakeholders". Bottom line is do you actually and factually know what the problem with the existing building is? P.S. if the conviction rate is 65 percent of the prisoners, aren't we putting 35% in jeopardy along with the deputies to guard them? Maybe it would be cheaper to just let them out and release the deputies instead of facilng potential litigation for health problems from innocent people.

Iknowjack
22
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Iknowjack 02/17/10 - 08:09 am
0
0
If the city is smart they

If the city is smart they would use a contractor who is local, well known, established, that will come back if there are issues to fix. I realize these things have to go out to bid, but let's take smart bids and not ones that could save a buck. That is why the LEC is the way it is now. Cheap labor, could never get the original contractor back to repair faulty work.

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 02/17/10 - 08:47 am
0
0
Another slap in the face to

Another slap in the face to South Augusta.Seems the only thing good in South Augusta are the residents who pay taxes. I urge the taxpayers of South Augusta to show your disproval at the polls. I also urge you to start packing the commission and demand that South Augusta residents stop being treated as second class citizens. This is why I was against consolidation when I lived in South Augusta. Only West Augusta and downtown gets the benefits.

corgimom
46311
Points
corgimom 02/17/10 - 09:05 am
0
0
Disss, ask NAPS about

Disss, ask NAPS about transporting detainees. It's not just about loading up a bus. For an 9:00 court appearance, they start getting the detainees ready at 4:00am. It takes a lot more time and work than you think. And Disss, no, I was not educated in Augusta. Sorry to disappoint you. But retrofitting old buildings is very expensive- and when you're done, you still have an old building. Does your house cost you more, or less, in maintenance costs at 30 years versus new?

pointstoponder
1363
Points
pointstoponder 02/17/10 - 09:29 am
0
0
Dissman, the current building

Dissman, the current building has been surveyed to determine what is wrong and the cost of repair is astronomical due to the initial design and construction. Furthermore the cost of operating a vertical detention facility is much higher than one like the one on Phinizy Road. The time to have gone after the contractor and designer was at completion. After 30 years there is not much you can do and, quite frankly, there were very likely local "leaders" complicit in the problems by wanting more than they could afford and cutting back in areas that compromised longevity. I am familiar with the existing building and yes there are issues, but the people working there respond to all of them and the picture painted by the press is not entirely accurate. However, the issues are way beyond simplistic solutions such as dehumidifiers.

peonynut
2
Points
peonynut 02/17/10 - 09:30 am
0
0
365 days will turn into 2 yrs

365 days will turn into 2 yrs with double the cost. Meanwhile where do the office workers go or do they sit in the mold and filth? It's pure laziness that keeps them from moving to South Augusta; the judges and attorneys do not want to drive that far.

pointstoponder
1363
Points
pointstoponder 02/17/10 - 09:39 am
0
0
peony, the office workers are

peony, the office workers are not sitting in mold or filth. And why would the judges or attorneys drive to south Augusta? The courthouse is downtown.

pointstoponder
1363
Points
pointstoponder 02/17/10 - 09:45 am
0
0
Countyman, south Augusta sent

Countyman, south Augusta sent Mr. Smith to the Commission twice. Obviouslythe people he represents wanted him back in. And the shopping center would have been a boneheaded choice.

dani
13
Points
dani 02/17/10 - 10:22 am
0
0
Raves for the decision to

Raves for the decision to build in the present location. Why buy property when it's not necessary.
Finally, a plan that make sense, one that everyone should be able to agree on.

dani
13
Points
dani 02/17/10 - 10:29 am
0
0
I'm having a problem

I'm having a problem understanding why the Smartway location would be considered. Aren't other businesses located in the center? What about them. I think they are attached and use the same parking area.

1of the frontrowgang
0
Points
1of the frontrowgang 02/17/10 - 10:48 am
0
0
I agree with Joe Bowles . If

I agree with Joe Bowles . If the property sold for $792,000 18 months ,why should the county pay $1.8 million for it as no improvements have been made. The location selected is by far the best. Raves to the six who voted for it.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/17/10 - 10:55 am
0
0
Detroit, Detroit, my kind of

Detroit, Detroit, my kind of town. And the "bail bondman's" have been over looked. They can't be relocating to S. Augusta. Who wants to go to Southgate anyway? Played all over those building while they were being constructed. We gathered some "serious brass" from the 22 Cal. nail guns. We probably all have "asbestos disease". Summer BB QUE's, street dances, carnivals, in ground trampolines.....

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/17/10 - 11:04 am
0
0
Consolidation was the "last

Consolidation was the "last step" in what had been decades long "annexation" of small sections of RC. Devide and conquer was the name of the game. Pit one section against the other for "mediocre services". ALL was done to shore up the ever decreasing tax base of DOWNTOWN. Downtown sits on an "island" of sinking sand. First it was "white flight" and now is "working, respectable African American flight". The ARC can't write federal grant applications fast enough. We are a government town. Not an "industrial town". Not a "big business headquarters town". Not an "international airport town". Look at t he I-85 corridor between Columbus GA and Raliegh NC if you want to know how to build a successful "southern metropolis". Augusta is a dead end town near a "major military complex and "federal nuclear facility".

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/17/10 - 11:07 am
0
0
There are about "six

There are about "six families" that control ARC. They are like GOD. All things are by them and for them. Sure every now and then they "throw some crumbs" to the "little people". But "becoming rich on the backs" of poorly educated, long suffering Southerners is not new.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 02/17/10 - 11:39 am
0
0
I am sick and tired of the

I am sick and tired of the complaint that West Augusta gets all the benefit and "NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE FOR SOUTH AUGUSTA".
The only thing this County has done for Summerville and West Augusta is raise our property values and increase our millage rate. What has the county done for West Augusta Wyld1???????????
As for South we have put in a drivers License office, Water Dept. office, Fire Administration Building and Training Center. I think that ends your argument Wyld1.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 02/17/10 - 12:52 pm
0
0
Corgi. I am sure that

Corgi. I am sure that regardless of what time the prisoners have to start getting ready, they will be the same as now and deputies surely don't sleep at night, obviously they are working. As to maintenance of my house, it sure won't cost me the same as replacing it. Of course if I had not touched anything for 30 years and just left it broken, then you would probably be right. But that proves my point. Where is the investigation as to how this happened, and what makes us believe the same bunch won't let it happen to a new facility?

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