ELKO, Nev. — Following an April vote to allocate $3.6 million to construction of a new jail wing, Elko County commissioners have selected Ormaza Construction to complete a much-needed building expansion. The firm was selected from a pool of four qualified bidders to construct the more than $4.1 million project.
The addition and expansion will add both new female dormitory space and a new wing for male offenders. Though jail officials had initially planned to complete the new women’s areas first and begin the larger men’s addition, which will double the bed space available to male inmates, later in the summer, both projects will be built congruently, saving the county both time and money. The expansion will also ease the strain on Elko County Jail staff, where suspects waiting to be booked or complete their sentence are often put on a wait list.
Speaking with the Elko Daily Free Press, Elko County Sheriff Jim Pitts added that additional work will be completed on the jail’s aging communication and security system. These technological deficiencies have resulted in increased work and heightened security risk for correctional staff. “We have had some problems with our intercom system,” Sheriff Pitts said. “Our guys have had to lock down the jail a few times and physically do checks every 15 minutes.”
According to Pitts more than 1,200 inmates have been booked at the facility since Jan. 1, 2014, including more than 300 in May alone. Though the jail’s population fluctuates, KOLO 8 TV reported in April that the facility’s inmate population was then 14 above its safe capacity. The news outlet also reported that in 2013 the Elko County Jail received a warning from the state of Nevada when it exceeded an 8-to-1 ratio of female inmates per toilet.
As the county’s correctional capacity increases, Pitts says the expansion will also necessitate the hiring of new correctional officers. Thus far the commission has approved the hiring of three additional staff members in the county’s FY 2014-2015 budget. However, Pitts would like to see this number increase as Elko County is the state’s second largest county in terms of square miles — and the fourth largest in the United States — but is managed by a law enforcement staff of just 70 law enforcement officers and support staff.
Ormaza Construction of Elko, a firm with residential, commercial and health care construction experience, will serve as construction manager for the project. The firm was selected from a pool of bidders that also included Sletten Construction of Las Vegas, Ascent Construction of Centerville, Utah and MGM Construction Inc. of North Salt Lake, Utah.