GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — A major milestone in local government, law enforcement and the infrastructure of Gallia County was met on Friday when ground was officially broken on the new Gallia County Jail facility.
As previously reported by the Tribune, the project is estimated to cost roughly $20 million, with funding secured via the issuance of tax-exempt bonds. Granger Construction is the construction manager-at-risk for the project.
The 32,000-square foot facility is expected to take 16 months to complete, it will have a basement, first floor and partial second story.
The new jail will have the capability of housing 120 incarcerated individuals, but can also be expanded to offer 160-180 beds in the future, if the need arises, due to the infrastructure already being put in place. The new facility will replace the current one which is housed in the basement of the Gallia County Courthouse and was originally built in the early 1960’s with an initial capacity of 38 incarcerated people.
Friday’s groundbreaking was held on what will be the jail’s new home, located behind the Gallia County Courthouse and across from the Gallipolis Municipal Court and Police offices. Residents may have noticed the fencing along Second Avenue in recent weeks which encloses the construction site.
Gallia County Board of Commissioners President Harold Montgomery gave opening remarks at Friday’s ceremony, noting many people had moved this project forward, a project which was years in the making. Sharing the podium with Montgomery and current Commissioners M. Eugene Greene and Q. Jay Stapleton, were former commissioners Dr. David K. Smith and Brent “Coach” Saunders. Both Smith and Saunders were in office with Montgomery when the project went from a concept to imminent reality. Additional collaborators on the project who were sharing the stage included Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, Greg Galieti, director of architecture for DLZ and Jamie Brundrett, senior project manager for Granger.
Following the welcome, Saunders led the invocation, speaking on the work of many on the new facility, including the “leadership” of Smith behind the scenes, as well as Montgomery, the office staff at the commissioners office, Sheriff Champlin and his staff, and maintenance workers. During his opening prayer, he asked God also be with Montgomery, Greene and Stapleton “as they see this project through.” Saunders said he hoped this would be “an institution known for rehabilitation.”
When speaking on the project details, Montgomery recalled a meeting in October 2018 with personnel from the judicial branch, law enforcement and more about their needs regarding a possible new jail.
Montgomery then spoke about the many who contributed since that first meeting when relaying the timeline of financing and design. “It’s really built up momentum and you’ll see it continue,” he said.
Commissioner Montgomery noted earlier in his remarks that the sheriff’s office and staff had been “tremendously stressed” over the years in regards to transporting inmates which also stresses the budget – situations Montgomery said the county hopes to alleviate in the near future with the new facility.
Sheriff Champlin told those gathered, “Today is a monumental day in the progression of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. Today is a benchmark for the continued success of Gallia County. Today is not just the breaking of ground on a correctional facility, but today is a day that we’ll look back on in history…”
The sheriff said there was no way to begin to tell those gathered the amount of hours which had been put into the project and like those speakers who preceded him, stressed many had a hand in bringing it forward. After giving thanks to those who worked on the new jail project, as well as recognizing his staff members, he ended his remarks recognizing the workers at the Gallia County Jail.
“There will never be enough words to show the gratitude we all have for you as you do this job,” Champlin said.
When speaking to the Tribune after the event, Champlin said, “We’ve read a lot of newspaper articles researching the old jail when it was built…, 1963 and 1964, many of us weren’t around to see that. The thing that we’ve got to keep in mind is, this jail (the old one) was built to meet the standards that existed back then. Our standards have changed. Our society has changed and our needs have changed.”
Champlin said once he came into office, “I quickly realized how much of a drain inmate housing is on the general fund, so the money we’re sending out of county, anywhere from $700,000 to close to $1 million a year, just to house, not to get them there, not to pay for their medical, those are all Gallia County tax dollars we’re giving away to other counties. With the building of this new jail, it will relieve the strain on the general fund and open up more tax dollars to be used for what they should be used for, which is our citizens and gives us the ability to hopefully bring in some revenue as well.”
“This is not a one-person, one-office project, this is a community project,” Montgomery said in his closing remarks. “We heard the outcry that the county needed a new jail…together, with everyone in the community, we’re going to complete this project. We’re going to do something that you’re all going to be proud of.”
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.