The Henderson County Jail expansion project is nearing completion, but for now county officials are awaiting a solution to an unexpected problem.

Henderson County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Chief Deputy Tony Allison said earlier projections of a March opening were scrapped because the project architect and engineer made an error in the design for smoke removal in the addition.

“They are getting together to determine how they will resolve the problem,” Allison said. “Because of the design error, the ducts will have to be re-worked.”

Whatever plan is devised will be brought back before the Henderson County Commissioners Court for approval, Allison said.

The smoke removal problem was conveyed to the county at a regular meeting earlier this month between the contractor, Templeton Construction and county officials.

“Now they are estimating finishing the project in late April,” Allison said. After construction is complete, the new portion of the jail will have to be inspected by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards before prisoners can be housed there.

Ground was broken on the jail expansion in July 2006, with a construction schedule of 16 months and an additional four months was projected for the remodeling phase. A tentative completion date was set for January 2008.

Factors including an exceptionally rainy summer in 2007 slowed work on the expansion. Completion was further delayed by a dispute between the contractor, Templeton Construction and a sub-contractor employed to do masonry work, Allison told the Henderson County Commissioners Court in November.

While the county awaits the opening of the 304 additional beds, it continues to pay to house overflow prisoners in other counties. According to the Commission on Jail Standards, the county had 258 prisoners as of March 17, 95 percent of the 271-bed capacity.

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