Construction underway for new Forrest County Jail - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Construction underway for new Forrest County Jail

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

FORREST COUNTY (WDAM) - Tucked away behind the Forrest County Multi Purpose Center are about 15 acres of land buzzing with activity - the site for a new Forrest County Jail.

After crossing the hurdle of where to put it and what company would get the bid, construction began in April and despite some heavy rain set backs so far it is coming along smoothly with electrical, plumbing and road work.

"Everybody is on schedule. Matter of fact some of them may be a little bit ahead," said county maintenance supervisor Curtis Elliott, who is on the site just about everyday, watching the progress of a plan years in the making.

"It's real good to finally see it start coming together," said Elliott.

The county was under a federal mandate to build a new jail because the current one in downtown Hattiesburg is outdated and overcrowded.

"We can't get our numbers down and maintain our numbers low enough with our existing facility so we had not choice but to proceed with this project," said Elliott.

It is a project with a price tag of about $25 million. Once completed, inmates from the work center and the downtown facility will be transported to the new site. The work center in the Palmers Crossing area will then be shut down, while the fate of the current jail is yet to be decided. That's still a lingering question for the board of supervisors.

The sheriff's office will also be moved to the new site.

The new jail is expected to have about 600 beds, compared to about 150 in the one downtown.

"It is the accumulation of a lot of hard work from the architects, from the county, from different county officials, the board of supervisors putting all of this together," said Elliott.  

The jail is set to be opened in late Sept. of 2011, and although not visible from Highway 49, county leaders say it will be an impressive facility, but hopefully not to stay at.

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