Gutting Williamson County's Old Jail

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By Sam Jones
By Benjy Jeffords

WILLIAMSON COUNTY —Crews are working hard to clear out the space used to house inmates for decades.

It's been more than two years since inmates were moved out of the space. The facility was replaced in 2012 because of its many problems, including outdated equipment and bad pipes that often leaked into the courthouse downstairs. Since then, the old jail space has just been sitting vacant, until now.

Work started two weeks ago, and it’s quite the undertaking to gut the space.

“I'll never ever have another opportunity to see a jail being taken out and apart like that. It's neat to watch it happen,” Deputy Brian Murrah enthused.

Public Building Commissioner Doug Williams says the county needed time to secure bids and decide what to do with the space.

“It's a very tough job to dispose of all the steel and iron. We're removing all of the plumbing and all these walls will be torn down,” Williams explained.

Local crews are working at night; only after the courthouse is closed for the day. It’s strategic timing, thanks to lessons learned in the last round of renovations.

“It made enough noise during the day that it interfered with the court proceedings so they realized having things beating banging around is not a good thing when you're trying to conduct business,” said Murrah.

He remembers what is was like when the old jail was in use. Inmates were known to intentionally flood the area.

“I think that taught everybody about putting office space beneath jail space,” Murrah added.

As the county's population grew, leaders realized they needed to expand. Clearing out this floor of the courthouse for office space, was cheaper than starting from scratch somewhere else.

“There's so much space in this area up here that could be utilized,” Williams urged.

The demolition project's expected to cost $200,000. Selling some of the scrap steel will help recoup part of that. The goal is to finish clearing out the old jail by the end of August.

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