Jail appears to be back on track

By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer

 Despite troubles last week with the electrician on the Cloud County Law Enforcement Center project, things appear to be back on track this week.
Tom Wierenga, superintendent with Zahner-Hansen Construction, told Cloud County Commissioners at their weekly owners' meeting Tuesday morning that electricians from Hot Wire Electric are back on the project.
On Oct. 9, Hot Wire employees left the jail worksite. Hans Hansen, principal with Zahner-Hansen said last Tuesday that the workers left because their company could not pay them. The company owner, Darryl Carron said last Friday that wasn't the case–that he had received no payments from Zahner-Hansen, and could not ask his employees to return unpaid.
Hansen brought in another electrical crew - Branson Electric - to continue the work, but they were not licensed in the city of Concordia, and were forced to leave the job.
This morning, Hansen said he had been in contact with Hot Wire Electric, and gotten them back on the job.
"I called Hot Wire, sent them some money, and they're back on board," Hansen said.
As of Tuesday, there are four Hot Wire electricians on the job, he said, and two more are on the way.
"We'll get that foreman up to speed and work toward a goal of getting done," Hansen said. "The electricians will work seven days a week until they are done. Hot Wire did give us that commitment."
Wierenga said once the foreman of the electrical crew gets up to speed on the remaining work, he will be able to give Commissioners a firm completion date. He said he will e-mail a new schedule on Friday or Monday.
Amber Lindberg, Cloud County jail administrator, expressed frustration over the fact that the completion date has continually been pushed back. She said the jail is currently over capacity, and has been for the last six weeks. Other counties have been calling, she said, asking for Cloud County to house their prisoners.
"I keep giving them a date, and it passes," Lindberg said. "It's getting frustrating because we could have inmates in here already paying off the bond."
Hansen said he understands Lindberg's frustrations, and shares them with her. He said he had hoped to give a firm completion date this week, which was why he brought in Branson Electric to keep up on the work.
"I can't control the building inspector's coming in and shutting us down," Hansen said. "I'm losing a lot of money every week that this isn't open, so I want it done as much as you. I know your concerns, and I have them, too. I'm sorry we've not made more progress. I was excited to have a good report this week, but the stuff that took place last Thursday was out of my control."
 On a positive note, Hansen said he has received the 20-year warranty on the metal building that houses the facility.
The Commissioners in attendance - Gail Engle and Gary Caspers - said the Commission will evaluate the schedule when it comes out, and potentially set up another owners' meeting next week.


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