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County aims to replace HVAC systems at jail before summer heat

Crews working at Pearl River County’s Lenoir Rowell Correctional facility are in the process of replacing two 55-ton heating, ventilation and air conditioning units that provide air conditioning to inmate housing, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.

The HVAC units are both located at the back of the building, said Lumpkin. One unit is no longer functional, while the other unit is the same age and also needs to be replaced, he said. The functioning unit is taking on extra work to compensate for the broken unit, said Sandy Kane Smith, Board of Supervisors president.

To ensure the population is comfortable in the  meantime, portable air conditioning units were purchased and placed in the rooms on the side of the building without a functional HVAC system but they are not a long-term solution, Lumpkin said. The sheriff has also moved inmates into different areas in the building, Smith said.

The county’s biggest concern is trying to keep conditions in the jail as bearable and comfortable as possible until new units can be installed, Lumpkin said. The county is trying to replace the units before temperatures rise, Smith said.

“We’ll continue to do what we have to do with temporary measures to keep everybody safe and comfortable,” Lumpkin said.

The Board of Supervisors declared the situation as an emergency at Monday’s meeting in order to replace both units at the same time. Replacing both units will cost $180,000 to $200,000, Smith said. It could take 8 to 10 weeks before the project is complete, Smith said.

Three contractors have been contacted about a price for replacing the old units, Lumpkin said. The biggest factor in the project’s timeline is how long it will take the manufacturer of the HVAC units to ship a new unit to the jail, Lumpkin said. Bids for the contract will be turned in by 10 a.m. Monday, Smith said.

Both units are located inside the fenced-in yards of the jail, so the installation of the new units will require a crane, Lumpkin said.  One-day crane rental will cost $10,000, said county engineer Les Dungan.

This means replacing both units at once will be cheaper, Lumpkin said. Utilizing a crane is cheaper than taking down sections of the fence, Dungan said, because the fence is embedded in concrete.

Last year the county replaced the 75-ton HVAC unit at the front of the facility that provides air conditioning to the administrative offices, Lumpkin said.