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ANDERSON — After a delay of six weeks, the contract for the jail feasibility study has been finalized.

The Madison County Commissioners voted June 15 to award the contract to RQAW Engineering to complete the study for $5,000.

County Attorney Jeff Graham said Thursday the contract was sitting in a mailbox at the Madison County Government Center, and an emailed copy got lost in spam.

“I’m making a couple of changes to the contract,” Graham said. Commissioner John Richwine said Thursday he was going to sign it.

The Fishers-based engineering firm said the study will determine how many beds are required for a new jail, the estimated construction costs, financing options and operating and staffing costs.

Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger has indicated the county needs to build a new jail with 500 beds and has estimated the cost at $50 million.

Mellinger has been seeking the feasibility study for more than 20 months.

The current facility has 207 beds and was opened in 1984, replacing the previous facility, built in 1939.

Richwine said in June that RQAW was being hired for the feasibility study only. “We will request proposals for the design and other aspects of the project.”

Mellinger said in June a feasibility study usually takes 60 to 90 days to complete.

“I’m familiar with all three companies,” he said of firms that bid to conduct the feasibility study. “Jail design and construction has come down to a science. We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Earlier this year, the commissioners hired Jack Krouse with Construction Control Inc. to be the county’s representative throughout the project.

Krouse said legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2018 requires counties to determine the costs of construction, soft (hiring a bond attorney, for instance), bond reserve, operations and staffing.

He said that if the completed feasibility study discusses multiple options, there will be a 60- to 90-day period to review those ideas and conduct a public hearing.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.