Barry County Commissioners Tuesday reviewed and recommended bids for the renovations of the Barry County Courthouse totaling $342,404, which includes $20,000 for contingencies.
The vote was 5-2 with commissioners Vivian Conner and Heather Wing dissenting.
Dave Beckering, Beckering Construction, Inc. and Bob Van Putten, Landmark Design Group, explained the bids and answered questions.
In addition to the bid work mentioned, flooring, painting, fire suppression, plumbing and electrical, the renovations include two holding cells, one for women, another for men; separate corridors to keep judges and prisoners apart and increased soundproofing in the jury room.
There will be improved separation between prisoners, jurors and the judicial staff; limited access to judicial areas with a window between staff and public; an attorney/prisoner conference room; a private entrance to the judge’s bathroom, moving the jury box across the room and a new judge’s bench.
During discussion,Commissioner Dan Parker asked why a railing separating the jury from the audience cost $14,700, and was told the rail was more like a wall, extra sturdy with metal anchors and intricate designs to match the existing historical details. Commissioner David Jackson asked if Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pearson, court security, endorsed the plans for the railing and flow of the people, and was told Pearson was very involved with the planning and was happy with it.
To a question on a charge for cell phones, Beckering said all construction sites now have employees carrying “smart” cell phones to upload drawings, get the latest architect’s bulletins, and keep up with changes. “In this age of technology, information is so fast, our guys have to have them…they seldom talk on them.”
Beckering also explained carpeting for the courtroom and acoustical and circulation improvements in the jury room. "I'm pleased Commissioners took decisive action in addressing this county's biggest facility problem. By taking a hard look at the cost of replacing our county jail, we're making progress and respecting our hardworking taxpayers,” Commissioner Ben Geiger said later.