Sheriff Donna Tompkins showed up at a Columbus Council meeting Tuesday to update officials on plans for a mobile kitchen that will be used during floor repairs.
Tompkins said her department had considered doing patchwork to fix the problem when she first entered office. But after meeting with staff and city engineers it was determined that the kitchen has structural problems and it needs a new drainage system installed under the floor.
“What we didn’t foresee at that time, also, was the fact that they would have to completely gut the inside of this kitchen to install those drains,” she said. “And during that whole process that kitchen would be un-useable for the inmates or for us to cook their meals.”
Tompkins said that’s why the Sheriff’s Department is bringing in a mobile kitchen from California. She said it will arrive in early January, after the holidays.
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“As we began to move forward with this project, one of the other things that became important is that we now have Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “And we needed 30 days dedicated to working on this project.
“You know most contractors are going to take a little time off until Christmas, but it’s very important for us to get the project done within 30 days so the costs are maintained,” she said. “Our plan at this moment is beginning on January the 2nd, we should have that mobile kitchen coming our way.”
She said it should “go live” by about January 8.
Following the meeting, Tompkins told the Ledger-Enquirer that officials planned to originally have the mobile kitchen in town by Dec. 1.
“But with Christmas coming, we certainly didn’t want to feed sandwiches over Christmas,” she said.
She said the kitchen floor has been a problem since 2015. It’s a facility’s maintenance problem, she said, but the Sheriff’s Office is taking the lead on it because “we’re there every day and we know what needs to be done.”
When she came into office, she was told patchwork would cost about $30,000, Tompkins. But vendors said it would cost about $125,000 to really fix the floor.
At that meeting, Council authorized the spending of Other Local Option Sales Tax dollars to bring in the mobile kitchen.
City Finance Director Angelica Alexander said there was a cost variance due to the construction time period, which could range anywhere from 30 to 60 days. She said the 30-day cost is $109,145 and 60-day cost is $164,945.
“The tile floor in the kitchen at the Muscogee County Jail is both a safety hazard and in violation of health codes,” according to information provided by the city. “The floor is cracked/chipped, missing grout, and has areas of pooling with standing water and continues to deteriorate. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the Engineering Department to remove the existing floor and install new floor drains along with the new flooring system.”