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Kirby Nagelhout plans to conclude the majority of work by end of April, at which time jail staff will begin training at the new facility

JASON CHANEY - Construction on the new Crook County Jail is still on schedule to conclude at the end of April, despite recent snowstorms that slowed down work on the facility.

Outside, mud is still frozen and exterior work is temporarily on hold as a winter chill persists.

Inside, the lights are on and mercifully so is the heating system as workers continue to chip away at completion of the Crook County Jail.

Construction work continued during a recent spate of snowstorms that dumped around two feet of snow in Prineville.

"It slowed everything down on the interior for about a week," recalls the project's superintendent, Roger Snow, "and the exterior, we haven't really started again yet."

But the weather didn't knock the project much off schedule. Completion of the building is still targeted for April 30, and at that point, county law enforcement is expected to take over interior of the building.

"There will be a transition of a couple months of training," said Crook County Commissioner Brian Barney, who serves as the public safety liaison. "We will still be doing a few (construction) odds and ends, and they will be running drills and learning the systems."

Inmates are expected to be moved into the facility in July.

Construction of the new 76-bed, $17 million jail began toward the end of August 2017. Long-awaited by residents and local leaders who grew frustrated by lacking jail space, the project was made possible with the passage of a tax bond in late 2016.

With about six weeks remaining until the scheduled completion date, much of the jail interior is taking shape. Walls and fixtures are in place throughout the administration portion of the building as well as the laundry and kitchen areas. Jail cells are at various stages of completion with some awaiting paint and others already sporting a metal toilet and sink.

The second-floor command center, where jail staff will keep watch over the facility through large windows on each side of the room, is built and awaiting finish work, and wood panels fill the window spaces.

Though many different aspects of building construction remain, such as painting, installing plumbing fixtures and finish work, Snow says that the most of the remaining work will involve security and electronics. He has personally never worked on a project with the level of electronics the new jail will feature.

"This is extensive. It's very high tech," he said. "Everything is digital in this building. Everything is controlled — the water, the electrical, the HVAC system. It's a very high-tech building."

Barney added that the county recently sent a team of law enforcement personnel out of town to review the electronics systems and receive training on them and learn how they will be set up in the local jail.

"It's way beyond anything we have ever had and frankly, it's way beyond what a lot of people have," he said.

At some point after completion of the facility, Barney said that local leaders hope to show the long-awaited jail to the public. He and Crook County Sheriff John Gautney and others have been working on a plan that may include opening the building up for multiple group tours.

Until that time comes, buzz has been building. Snow said with most construction projects, he tends to mostly field complaints about noise or other disruptions, but that has not been the case on this one.

"Most of them are saying it's much needed," he remarked.

With the end in sight, Barney is pleased to see how far construction has come, and he will happy to see the completed product in the not-too-distant future.

"It has been a great project," he said.

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