Sheriff raises new questions on delay of jail's new wing

Contractor says changes requested by county hold back completion

June 04, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Offering a review of operations for Carroll County leaders, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning raised a complicated question this week -- whether the general contractor for the jail addition should be penalized $500 a day for failing to complete the project on time.

Tregoning, who took office Dec. 7, and Mason Waters, warden at the Carroll County Detention Center, told the Board of County Commissioners Wednesday that work at the $6.1 million, 100-bed addition appears to have drastically slowed recently.

Later, Ralph E. Green, chief of the county's Bureau of Permits and Inspections, said the original contract with CJF Inc., the Cockeysville-based general contractor, called for a Feb. 22 completion date. That date was set back to "somewhere between May 10 and May 19" because of construction delays during excavation, Green said.

The contract calls for daily penalties of $500 for the first 30 days beyond the completion date and $1,000 a day after that.

Waters noted that the jail's daily population peaked at more than 200 inmates last month and is currently running at 180 -- about 40 above capacity. He said he recently walked through the new wing several times and found little work being done.

"On one day, I found two guys in there, and they were just talking," Waters said.

Complicating the deadline issue, Green said, is a review of "change orders" -- items that the county says it believes are covered in the original contract specifications, but the contractor might disagree.

"The exact completion date cannot be set until all change orders are reviewed and resolved," Green said. "This is typical in construction contracts of this size."

In response, Charles J. Frank, president of CJF Inc., said yesterday that the "delays have been the result of a number of changes in contract work, many of which have yet to be resolved.

"Also, additional changes in contract work were discussed just [yesterday] with details not yet presented to us. We are working to an amicable solution on all issues."

Tregoning acknowledged that some delays have occurred because of "our request to correct a situation, or make it better, and that may add construction time" affecting the final deadline for completion, which he put at mid-July or August.

The contractor and county building officials are scheduled to walk through the new wing next week to determine a "punch list," which would detail minor items that need to be completed before occupancy.

If CJF and the county cannot agree on unresolved change orders, a hearing representative will decide how to settle the dispute, and that decision can be appealed in court within 10 days, Green said.

"Inmates might be in the new addition before all change orders are resolved and the completion date is determined," he said.

Tregoning also asked commissioners Wednesday if the contractor could be liable for losses incurred if he cannot begin housing federal Immigration and Naturalization Service inmates at the county jail, slated to begin July 1.

A contract with INS has not been signed for the inmate housing, for which the county would receive $70 a day for each of the 16 expected federal prisoners. He said he cannot accept INS inmates until he has space for them in the new wing.

Speaking about his first six months as sheriff, Tregoning said that reorganization within sheriff's services and the detention center will enable him to have a dozen sworn deputies on road patrol, enhancing the crime protection primarily provided to Carroll County by the Maryland State Police Resident Trooper program and municipal police agencies.

He said that one deputy and six correctional officers would soon be hired, in addition to two civilian public-information specialists -- the latter as contractual employees paid $10.79 an hour and receiving no benefits.

Tregoning said the hiring of the public-information specialists will free sworn deputies for law enforcement.

Tregoning said he also is moving to privatize home detention of some nonviolent criminals, which is expected to save the county money and increase efficiency within the detention center.

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