Building a jail
Behind a fenced-off portion of downtown Prineville just east of the Crook County Sheriff's Office, heavy machinery is a frequent site.
A two-block section of Northeast Second Street is closed to traffic, and evidence of recent trenching is still visible for those who get close enough to look.
So far, jail construction has kept low to the ground, leaving little for passersby to see, but several critical components of the project are either finished or nearing completion.
"All of the city utilities have been moved," said Crook County Sheriff John Gautney, who has kept a close watch on the construction, taking place just outside his office window. "The water and sewer lines have been replaced and rerouted. The new gas line has been rerouted."
In addition, an above-ground power line and accompanying power pole along First Street, the southern border of the jail site, has been removed with the power line buried underground.
Construction of the new 76-bed, $17 million jail began toward the end of August with contracting company Kirby Nagelhout leading the effort. Barring unforeseen delays, the jail will be completed and operational by December 2018.
Construction of the new facility, long-awaited by residents and local leaders who grew frustrated by lacking jail space, was made a reality with the passage of a tax bond nearly a year ago.
Most recently, construction crews have been completing foundation work on the site, which includes pouring concrete foundation footings and installing Geopiers to reinforce the earth beneath the jail.
The process of adding the roughly 800 Geopiers has caused quite the commotion in recent weeks. Gautney explained that workers drive a hollow tube about 25 feet into the ground, then back the tube out a foot, and fill that emptied portion with gravel. Workers then compact the gravel, causing it to mushroom out and stabilize the area around it. That process is then repeated until the 25-foot section is completely filled and compacted.
Friday morning, about 80 Geopiers still needed installed, and Gautney estimated that by the weekend, that portion of the project would conclude.
"That has been what's been causing all of the shaking and vibrating in the neighborhood," Gautney said. "We don't have anything on our walls."
Meanwhile, foundation work has begun on the south end of the site, the future home of the jail's housing unit. Concrete was poured on Thursday, and similar work is slated to start at the north end of the site once Geopier installation concludes.
When construction began a couple months ago, walls were expected to start going up by early or mid-December, and so far, that schedule is likely to hold.
"We will be happy to see walls start going up, and I think people in the community will be too," Gautney said.
And as construction progresses, project leaders will continue to refine the effort and adjust to changes as they become necessary.
"We are still working out some of the fine details," Gautney said. "It is a living, breathing project, so things are always changing based on what is happening on the ground."