Government / Politics

Jail expansion approved

Board of Supervisors approves nearly $16 million expansion project

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 20 unanimously voted to approve a jail construction agreement that will build a 24,000-square-foot medium security facility on 2.6 acres of a 21-acre site owned by the county on Flynn Road, inside the city limits of Hollister. 

Most of the money for the nearly $16 million project will come from the state through Assembly Bill 900, or the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007, which authorized up to $1.2 billion in two phases for county jail construction throughout the state. The State of California will provide financing for the project up to a maximum of $15,053,000, with matching county cash funds of $60,000 and an in-kind match of $733,000, totaling $15,856,000.

The new facility, which is tentatively scheduled to open between May 30 and Aug. 25, 2017, is designed to provide approximately 72 beds and will include housing, program, medical, custody, and administrative space. The new building will be dependent on the existing detention facility for several core operational components, including food and laundry services.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho asked Brent Barnes– director of the Resource Management Agency that designed the project — if the county has any flexibility regarding the timeline for the facility.

“The state said there is some flexibility, but I don’t have anything in writing on that yet,” Barnes said. “We’re working now with the state on the lease documents, so when that comes back to the board, I want to have a revised timeline for you.”

Botelho expressed concern about time restrictions associated with the project and asked Barnes to be sure to get it in writing from the state.

“We don’t want to lose this opportunity because it’s a big deal for us,” Botelho said.

Barnes assured the Board that the state has explained it to him that the program has been amended a couple of times regarding timelines and local matching funds.

“Just because of the challenges of some of the smaller counties are having, so the state is taking a little bit more of a flexible approach,” he said.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]