CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday approved moving forward with a $9.3 million renovation project at the Clearfield County Jail.
In April, the commissioners partnered with ABM Industries – Bundled Energy Solutions of Pittsburgh to develop a Guaranteed Energy Savings Program for the jail.
Prior to board approval, Tyler Nichols, ABM sales director, presented an overview of the firm’s proposal for renovations and improvements to be completed at the jail.
The proposal also included interior/exterior LED lighting upgrades as well as sealing and water conservation improvements at the Courthouse and its Annex, county Administrative Offices and 911 Center.
Nichols said Commissioners John Sobel, Tony Scotto and Dave Glass as well as Jail Warden David Kessling were very involved in the process and worked collaboratively with ABM.
Nichols, who has done walkthroughs of the county’s facilities, said in general they are very clean and well-maintained, a credit to its dedicated staff.
“It’s really allowed the county – particularly at the jail – to maximize asset life,” he said, “because a lot of things in that facility are objectively well-beyond … their useful life.
“… You’re not doing anything prematurely. You’ve certainly gotten everything out of these assets and they don’t owe you anything, so you’re not spending money unnecessarily or prematurely.”
Nichols said the project encompassed a lot of structural improvements at the jail, the result of the observations and findings of two, independent structural engineers.
The roof will completely be replaced. This, Nichols said, has been an ongoing source of water infiltration that’s led to damage in other areas of the facility, as well.
There will be building envelope (sealing) and air quality improvements done as well as extensive HVAC system upgrades.
Other work will include boiler, transformer and generator replacement, water conservation improvements and interior/exterior LED lighting upgrades.
The visitation room will also be converted into an armory, and the overhang at the front of the building will be demolished and removed.
Total project investment is $9,398,612, and is expected to generate an energy savings of $2,198,742 and operational savings of $305,656.
Because it’s a guaranteed energy savings contract, ABM is guaranteeing the savings and if it’s not realized, ABM will pay the difference. Any excess savings is accrued by the county.
Sobel noted the county can utilize American Rescue Act Funding to cover the HVAC system upgrades, which accounts for approximately $1.3 million.
He said the commissioners will continue to explore other project areas, where it may be able to make use of the COVID emergency relief funding to lessen the burden on taxpayers.
Currently Nichols said the county is financially strong and fiscally responsible with very low debt, which made the county very appealing for finance partners.
The county also approved (pending final review) municipal lease financing for the project through Huntington Bank over 20 years with a fixed interest rate of 2.71 percent.
“The jail has been put on the backburner for years,” Glass said, “so it’s the jail’s turn. This can’t really wait. If we wait another five years, it could become a hazardous structure.
“The roof probably can’t make it another five years; the HVAC system is completely at the end of its useful life; and the piping is so rusted out.
“This isn’t something where it’s a nice-to-have; these are by-and-large must-haves to keep that jail a viable and safe structure for our inmates and personnel.”
Nichols said most interior jail renovations will be done this fall/winter with roofing and HVAC work to begin in the spring. He expects the project will be complete next summer.
Sobel asked ABM to, if and when possible, make use of local labor, and if workers come in from out of the area that they be encouraged to stay in local hotels and motels.