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MURPHYSBORO - The Jackson County Jail is sinking again.

Jail officials told the county board's building and grounds committee about the problems last week. The extent of the problem is not yet known and county board members didn't know what they were going to do about it this week.

The issue was brought up again Monday at a meeting of the board's finance committee during a discussion of repairs needed at the courthouse.

"We've got trouble over at the jail, too," said finance committee member Mary "Mickey" Korando, who is also chair of the building and grounds committee. "We've got sinking outside and they've got cracks in the wall."

Finance committee members asked Sheriff Robert Burns if the new sinking has caused any problems with the functioning of the jail's heavy steel doors. Burns said it hasn't and that so far damage appears to be minor.

"There are some cracks that are appearing in the east wall in the processing area," Burns said. "There is also an area adjacent to the sally port where there is an expansion joint opening up."

Burns said Tuesday the new cracks are not affecting the operation of the jail. He also said his department and the building and grounds committee are in the process of evaluating the situation.

The new sinking is occurring in the southeast corner of the jail, the same corner that was demolished and rebuilt in 1991 at a cost of $500,000 because it had sunk more than 10 inches. The sinking portion of the building contains the jail's booking area.

The 43,000-square-foot jail was built in the late 1980s to meet new state standards for space requirements. It replaced a 60-year-old jail, which was located on the third floor of the courthouse.

During construction in October 1987 contractors discovered the southeast corner of the new jail was sinking. It was later determined the jail was being built on an old landfill.

By the time the building was completed in 1988 the corner had sunk 8 inches.

Workers tried to stabilize the building by drilling holes into the ground under the building and injecting them with a cement-based grout. The $58,000 project failed and the corner continued to sink.

In June 1991, 2,000 square feet of the building was razed. The ground was shored up with rock and the section was rebuilt at a cost of $500,000.

The Jackson County Building Commission eventually was paid $546,241 after settling lawsuits against the six companies that built the jail.

In 1998 the building commission and Pearce and Pearce Inc., the St. Louis architectural firm in charge of the jail's construction, and Siebold, Sydow and Elfanbaum Inc., a St. Louis structural engineering firm, agreed to settle their suits. The two companies each paid $210,000 to the commission in exchange for having the lawsuit dropped.

White & Borgognoni, the Carbondale architectural firm that acted as on-site inspectors for the construction project, paid $73,241 in the settlement. Robert L. Morgan Builders of Murphysboro, the construction firm hired to build the jail, was released from the suit after paying the commission $28,000. Professional Service Industries Inc. of Carbondale, which did the soil testing on the building site, paid the commission $25,000.

J.T. Blankinship & Associates was released from the suit without paying the commission anything. 618-529-5454 x15078


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