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With California’s state detention centers overcrowded, county facilties are being pressed into service to hold prisoners for longer than one year, which had been the limit for county detention. Those with longer sentences previously had been sent to state facilities. Now inmates can spend up to three years or more in a county facility.

The current jail in Calaveras County was built in 1963 to house 45 inmates. Over the last serveral decades, an additional 20 beds were added, bringing the jail to its current capacity of 65. The new jail will house 160 inmates. This should slow the county’s early release program instituted because of the old jail’s limited capacity.

The detention facility is located in San Andreas, which is an unincorporated area west of San Francisco in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Established in 1848 as a mining town, San Andreas – home to the celebrated jumping frog in Mark Twain’s classic short story – is the Calaveras County seat.

The new complex – construction of which started in September and is scheduled for completion in May 2013 – is being financed by a local bond issue and state funds. As designed by architect PSA Dewberry, a second two-story building will house the county sheriff’s offices.

The 76,500-square-foot detention center will have two main floors with a mezzanine. It is being built to accommodate a direct supervision system. In this type of system, instead of detention officers monitoring the facility from a control room, they mix with inmates who are low-level risks in a dayroom setting. Those evaluated as being higher-level risks spend more of their time in cells.

The detention center includes a sally port for transfer of prisoners to and from vehicles and medical and dental facilties. Most cells will house two inmates, but a few will be single cells. The center also will have state-of-the-art security technologies with closed circuit television, access control, video visitation and capabilities for video arraignment.

The 41,500-square-foot sheriff’s office building will house the sheriff’s operations, dispatch, 911, the emergency operations center and patrol and investigation units. A corridor will connect the detention center to a new courthouse that will be built next to it.

Government Expansion

The county purchased 58 acres adjacent to its existing government center for the detention center and future projects such as the new courthouse. Bids to build the new courthouse will be received this December for a construction start in spring 2012 and completion approximately 19 months later.

The complex also will have a bio-swale area to retain rainwater and will maintain much of the natural landscaping. An archaeological site is located on the property along with a radio frequency tower and a circular drive in front with parking for visitors. Staff parking is in the back of the complex. 

The general contractor on the project is Flintco Pacific, a subsidiary of Flintco LLC of Tulsa, Okla., which claims the title of the largest American Indian-owned construction company and one of the largest commercial contractors in the United States. Flintco is in its third generation of private ownership.

The two buildings making up the Calaveras County Facility are concrete with textured precast exterior walls and interior walls made up of concrete masonry units. The foundation is made of concrete, with footings extending down 3 to 5 feet.

Acting as project and construction manager for the design/bid/build complex since 2009 is Kitchell. “Clients often hire us to help them with the planning, oversight and project management during the design phase and to provide oversight and management during construction,” Kitchell’s Project Director Doug Evans explains. “Calaveras County is a small rural county. They just didn’t have the employees in-house to manage this large a project.”

Wetlands Challenge

Kitchell has been building criminal justice facilities for 33 years, Evans says, along with educational and healthcare facilities. A challenge of constructing the detention center that Evans notes is the wetlands on the site that came under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). “When it rains, there’s an area in the middle of the site that is somewhat of a low area,” Evans reports. “The rain water drifts down through the site from the adjacent property. It’s not a creek – it’s dry during the winter. A swale is a good term.”

Dealing with the USACE and obtaining wetlands approvals has been one of the biggest challenges, he maintains. “There were some elderberry bushes on the site, and elderberry bushes are habitat for the longhorn elderberry beetle, a threatened species,” Evans notes. “So we had to have interaction with the corps for permitting and for making sure that we weren’t damaging the beetle habitat.”

Several options were available for dealing with the bushes. “You can move bushes or plant new ones or stay a certain distance away,” Evans suggests. Of the five bushes, the project design was able to keep construction operations away from three of them. The other two bushes were small and in the middle of a planned roadway. So the county had them removed and paid a mitigation fee.

Another challenge of the project is its construction start in September. “Ideally, you want to start in April so you’re doing your site work and earth work in the nice part of the year,” Evans explains. “Because of the way the project worked out timing-wise, we weren’t able to do that. That’s a little bit of a challenge but not uncommon.”

With its new facility, Calaveras County will be updating and improving its detention activities. Evans points out that the California Department of Corrections has changed its name to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “They’re realizing recidivism is a huge problem, and they need to do something to break the cycle,” Evans asserts. “They’re trying different things to do that.”

Native American Heritage

Founded in 1908, the operating divisions of general contractor The Flintco Cos. provide pre-construction, construction management, design/build, project and program management and general contracting. Flintco’s nine offices in the West and Midwest build facilities for corrections, education, healthcare, corporate, office, sports, hospitality, utilities, government and not-for-profit agencies.

Flintco was founded by C. W. Flint Sr. as Oklahoma was transitioning from Indian territory to statehood. The Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Okla., was the first of a long list of Native American building projects. The company has worked with more than 65 Indian nations building community centers, schools, healthcare facilities, hospitality, leisure and commercial projects.

Flintco includes the tribe, pueblo or rancheria as a fully vested team member throughout the construction of its Native American projects. The company – which received its first Tribal Employment Rights Certification in 1991 – also mentors Native American and minority subcontractors and hires and trains Native American workers. It has obtained certifications from many additional tribes.

Over the years, Flintco has received awards such as the National Minority Business Advocate of the Year award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for outstanding performance in the service industry and excellent service to the minority community.

ZERO by Design

Flintco has established a multi-faceted delivery program that is continually being honed to improve client service called ZERO By Design. It is an integrated method of delivery based on the best project management practices the company has developed during its century in business. The ZERO By Design program covers project planning, safety, quality, scheduling and optimum client service standard procedures from preconstruction to completion.

The company also has an upfront preconstruction planning process called VALUE By Design that builds the project on paper before construction starts. This program enhances cost and time savings and assures a smoother and more integrated construction process, the company says.

Mission ZERO partnering meetings bring owners, designers and builders together to share expertise and provide constructive solutions to construction of the final building. Its ZERO delays program proactively manages the schedule to meet clients’ project delivery needs. ZERO punchlist manages the delivery of a complete, quality building from trees to keys, and the ZERO accidents nationally top-ranked safety program keeps employees safe. 

The Latest Technology

Besides purchasing the latest imaging, scheduling and project control programs, Flintco has developed proprietary technological advances and its own database of information. The company’s individual project websites and extranet ensure secure sharing of project status and contract documents. These technologies include real-time Web cams, the latest project progress photos and current documents to keep all team members informed throughout the life of a project.

The company’s in-house information technology team supports project communication 24/7 with a secured infrastructure. Designers and end users to subcontractors and agency reviewers can communicate through video conferencing. Accurate status reports can be provided at any point in a project.