Prison task force expects delay in engineering report

Rawlins Daily Times, Trudy Balcom, File Pictured is the entry sign to the Wyoming State Penitentiary. The facility is undergoing scrutiny from a legislative task force design to oversee repair and replace options.

Rawlins Daily Times, Trudy Balcom, File
Pictured is the entry sign to the Wyoming State Penitentiary. The facility is undergoing scrutiny from a legislative task force design to oversee repair and replace options.

By Trudy Balcom

tbalcom@rawlinstimes.com

RAWLINS — A subcommittee of the Legislative Task Force on Penal Facilities — the so-called prison task force — contracted last month with the engineering firm Martin/Martin to produce a report for that will outline a cost/benefit analysis for four different options to repair or replace — or some combination of those two options — the state penitentiary’s buildings in Rawlins.

But now that’s been delayed.

The report from Martin/Martin was supposed to be completed at the end of August, but on Thursday, Rep. Donald Burkhart, R-Rawlins, said that some delays had developed that had pushed back the date for completion of the engineering firm’s report.

“Martin/Martin’s job is to give us our options. They’re working on soil studies in areas they have identified as potential sites (for new prison locations),” Burkhart said.

The delay, Burkhart said, comes in getting soil studies completed at those locations. The soil studies would identify if a location would be a suitable site for structures similar in size and construction to the current prison.

Some of the lands under consideration belong to Anadarko. Martin/Martin subcontractors have been able to complete soil studies on Anadarko properties, but Burkhart said it has been tougher to work with the BLM, because they needed significantly more time to complete soil studies on their properties.

In early July, the Task Force authorized hiring Martin/Martin at a cost of $133,000 to prepare a study by Aug. 30 to consider the following options:

  • Option 1: Repair the existing facility.
  • Option 2: Replace the entire facility on an alternate site as discussed with the task force.
  • Option 3: Replace south housing A-C on alternate site, repair balance of South Facility. Replacement includes new small units for admin, library, visitation, chapel and warehouse functions.
  • Option 4: Replace south housing A-H on alternate site and repair existing CPF and K unit. Replacement includes new small units for admin, library, visitation, chapel and warehouse functions.

A cost/benefit analysis on al of these options will be a critical element of the report.

“Basically where we’re at is the subcommittee has been meeting regularly, sometimes every week. We’ve been trying to iron out the details,” said Copper France, a citizen Task Force member and president of Bank of Commerce.

France said contractors for Martin/Martin have been continuing to conduct borings this week.

Burkhart said that members of the subcommittee would meet with Martin/Martin next week. The subcommittee wants to review the engineering firm’s progress on the report in preparation for the presentation of the completed document to the full Task Force at its next meeting.

The date of the next Task Force meeting has not yet been set, pending the completion of the Martin/Martin report.

Burkhart said he is hoping that the Martin/Martin report will be completed the first week in September, but it may not be ready until the second week of September.

“That’s the latest we can kind of make-do,” he said.

The Task Force must complete its work this fall, so that it can make its recommendations to the next session of the state legislature. The Task Force must present its findings to the Joint Judiciary Committee on Oct. 1.

No matter what the Task Force recommends, France said the decision for legislators will not be easy.

“There’s going to be pros and cons to every solution…I still think it will be a complicated decision. We’re talking a lot of money here,” he said.

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