By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – The building on Fulton Drive that for more than three decades was the Alcorn County Jail has been renovated and will soon house administrative offices for the board of supervisors.
Staff members began moving into the building this week, including Purchase Clerk Paul Rhodes, Deputy Purchase Clerk Jill Goodwin and Accounting Clerk Debbie King, as District 2 Supervisor Dal Nelms did a walk-through of the completed work. Floyd Crum, another clerk in the purchase department, will also have office space there.
“We gutted the entire area and rebuilt all the walls,” Nelms said. “Some of the walls we had to keep in the same place because of weight-bearing issues.”
The other supervisors turned management of the project over to Nelms, a former contractor.
A primary consideration in the decision to move offices from the second floor of the chancery building was the need to create accessibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It was going to cost $30,000 to $40,000 to install an elevator in that building,” Rhodes said.
The renovation increased the size of the board of supervisors meeting room, and a small conference room was added where supervisors can go into executive session without having to clear the main meeting room.
“We had to go through several floor plans before everybody was satisfied, and what we ended up with gave everyone a window in their office,” Nelms said.
The jail suffered severe damage from flooding during the May 2010 storm that resulted in a federal disaster declaration. The jail moved to the county’s new justice center within months after the flooding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reimbursing the county more than $43,000 which can only be used to make repairs to that building. FEMA terms required replacement of walls and electrical outlets and replacement of floor tiles.
Rather than putting down new floor coverings the supervisors decided to go with finishing the concrete, for a glossy but durable surface. Additional finishing touches like wainscoting, moulding and a cove ceiling in the board meeting room create a very elegant business environment.
Nelms also made sure to keep some of the historical touches intact, like bringing the old jail sign indoors and putting it above bars to the old jail cell that had served as the “drunk tank.”
About 5,000 square feet of office space has been remodeled, but an additional 1,300 square feet has been left open for other use. With an outside door to that space, supervisors are mulling whether to finish it out as one large meeting room space for the community, or finding a renter and completing it to their specifications. The jail cell area has been left untouched.
“We’ve spent about an additional $40,000, but one builder estimated that if we’d started from scratch this building would have cost about $500,000,” Nelms said. “If we hadn’t already had this building where we couldn’t spend the FEMA money for anything else, we probably wouldn’t have done it.”