The new Smith County Jail is closer to housing criminals every day. The jail cells are now being moved into place. Yes, you heard that right, the cells are assembled off site, then moved into place inside the building.
They go together kind of like big, heavy Lego pieces.
In the old days of building jails, construction workers would slowly make cell walls with concrete and cinder blocks or brick, but today the blocks that are stacked are the actual cells themselves.
Smith County Commissioner Precinct 1 Jeff Warr has been watching the jail come together.
"These have a much longer life because they are steel; powder coated steel. The bunks, the commodes, the seats, everything is already built in the cells: Pre-fab. It's built-in and welded all together so there's not any loose screws or concrete for people to chip out and tear up," Commissioner Warr said.
The cells are a lot tougher to escape from since they're all steel. They are shipped in from out of state and wait in line on Erwin Street until the inside space is ready.
The cells are hoisted up and taken to a staging area where two cells are stacked and welded together.
"All the plumbing, the A/C, the exhaust system, things like that are on the back side of the cells and that's where the guys can do all the maintenance," Warr stated.
Most problems can be taken care of from outside the cell.
"Maintenance-wise it's much better and it's a good bargain for the tax-payer," Warr concluded.
The ten-thousand pound cells should all be in place in the next month. A block-long section of Erwin Street from Spring Street to the railroad tracks will close intermittently during this phase of construction.