The new Grady County Criminal Justice Authority East Detention Center is about a month away from being fully operational.
A ribbon cutting was held at the site of the new jail on Tuesday.
The new, minimum security addition is located across the street from the existing Grady County Criminal Justice Authority and south of the Grady County Sheriff's Office, on Pennsylvania Ave. in Chickasha.
Over the next several weeks, the new jail will undergo inspections before officially opening.
Inmates housed within the jail above the Grady County Courthouse will be transferred to the new facility and that jail will close. The property will then be turned over to the county to repurpose, Jim Gerlach, Grady County Jail Administrator, said.
The new 13,000 square foot facility has 204 beds for inmates and several improvements, including the ability to isolate cells in certain instances.
"When I arrived five years ago, I was amazed at the desire to see the GCCJA succeed," Gerlach said, "The board members wanted direction and progressive management."
Gerlach became the jail administrator in 2014. About three years ago, he proposed a plan to invest the jail revenue earned since his arrival into building the new expansion.
The new jail was designed by Gerlach with help from the GCCJA Board and jail staff. Richard Stark of Prairie Rock Architects completed the final blueprints. CMS Willowbrook is the construction manager for the project.
"We will complete this project under the $4.2 million budgeted amount, paid for from the general fund. This project also assisted in the successful refinance of our existing high interest loan to a new low interest local loan with Arvest Bank, Liberty and First National participation."
Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir, said he saw the need for improvements with the jail when he took his post in 2013. Weir said Grady County was at risk of losing their federal contract and management of the jail was less than ideal. At the time, deputies were often dispatched to respond to issues at the jail and jail staff were restricted from performing their duties.
Weir gave credit to Gerlach for improving many areas of the jail, including working conditions for jail staff and hiring standards.
Gerlach thanked many for brining the jail addition to fruition including his family, the GCCJA staff, the GCCJA board members, Starks ("who took my one page design and turned it into a book of blueprints") CMSWillowbrook and the many contractors involved in the project.
In order to repurpose the old jail above the courthouse, the county may hire a team of engineers to investigate how much will need to be spent in order to make that area of the building usable. One option may be to move the district attorney's office to the old building after refurbishing, Kirk Painter, Grady County Commissioner, said.
The old jail has had several issues including plumbing, ventilation and problems with the building frame. It could take about $300,000 just to make the area useable, Painter said.