Berkeley County Council member Douglas E. Copenhaver Jr. said the building should be ready by summer while giving a progress tour last week.
“But the good thing is they know it’s coming.”
“They” includes 58 deputies, eight to 10 building staff, about 20 court security officers and 25 to 30 volunteer deputy reserve officers. The county’s Animal Control officers also are expected to be “in and out” of the building while working with deputies on various cases, Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said Monday.
Copenhaver said renovation of the former Martins grocery store building for the sheriff’s department at 510 S. Raleigh St. is projected to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million. The county purchased the 5.5-acre commercial property, which includes a vacant CVS/pharmacy store building, for $3.1 million in 2007.
Copenhaver said the public bidding process required for the taxpayer-funded project has slowed progress considerably, but noted the county has saved more than $1 million by doing as much of the work in-house as possible. Rather than award the project to a general contractor, the county hired a clerk of the works and project designer and several part-time workers to contain labor costs and avoid paying prevailing wages.
Those personnel moves, along with having other county employees help out, has helped reduce labor costs by about 75 percent, Copenhaver said.
The county’s IT department has helped reduced costs by assisting with stringing the 36,651-square-foot building with more than 14 miles of wire, Copenhaver said.
In gutting the building, the county was able to sell several thousand dollars worth of scrap metal, but also reuse conduit, according to Copenhaver.
Workers began hanging drywall Jan. 23 and officials have been exploring flooring options to find the product right for a building that is in use year-round, 24 hours a day.
Copenhaver noted that there will be no need for bottled water in the building because they are using carbon filtration and reverse osmosis treatment systems in the facility.
Additional savings have been netted through the county’s plan to recycle furnishings that Blue Ridge Community and Technical College left behind on the first floor of the county’s administration building.
The new facility includes an observation room that will allow deputies to monitor interviews in two rooms from behind one-way glass, a 4,000 square foot of garage space to house vehicles and a 6,800 square foot deputy squad room for four work shifts. There are currently three work shifts, allowing room for growth, according to Lemaster.
Copenhaver noted the new facility will provide space for two holding cells, five interview rooms, two evidence laboratories, exercise and kitchen/break rooms, two bunk rooms and a deputy reserves office.
The current law enforcement headquarters building is about 8,000 square feet.
Lemaster said Monday that staff needs to go outside to retrieve older files from a container outside the building with a flashlight. The container does not have electricity and if the staff need more time, they set up lights and fans in the summer time when it gets hot outside, Lemaster said.
“We’re jam packed and have been,” Lemaster said while giving a tour in December.