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New center for community corrections

Finding a new home has been on the minds of staff members with the Escambia County Community Corrections Department for two years — a search that has finally reached an end.

Jerry Caylor, director of the county’s Community Corrections Department, said property has been purchased and a new building will soon be constructed.

“The need for a larger place came up about two years ago,” Caylor said. “I became the court referral officer and our number of clients jumped from 200 to 800 overnight.”

Caylor said the current location would simply not accommodate the number of clients to be seen by his office staff.

“We began testing the waters to see what we could do,” Caylor said. “We began searching for property to have a new facility.”

Caylor said the support of the Escambia County Commission and the community has made the planned move possible.

“We had very positive support from Commissioner David Stokes and the commission,” Caylor said. “We had some donated money from the community that allowed us to purchase the land for a new facility. The support we’ve seen in this move has been wonderful.”

Caylor said the property selected for the Department is located on Douglas Avenue just north of the Grandberry Avenue intersection.

“We have a lot next to Herrington’s on Douglas Avenue,” Caylor said. “There was a house there that we hoped to use but the condition of the building wasn’t good. That building was torn down and we have plans to build our own facility.”

Caylor said engineers are working on plans for the new office space and the construction phase will be next.

“We’ve already had some work done to the property getting ready for construction,” Caylor said. “We have preliminary plans for the building that have been sent back to the engineers for some changes. The plans should be in our hands by the end of next week.”

Plans for the new facility will include classroom space that will be a money-saving space for the county.

“We have incorporated a classroom into the new building that will be a benefit to the county,” Caylor said. “Right now, the county opens up the courthouse on Tuesday nights for about eight weeks for D.U.I. classes. By having this classroom, those classes can be held at our office without the county having to open up the courthouse on those nights with air conditioning, lights, security — that will save some money for the county. We wanted to make sure we had a classroom in our plans.”

Once the final plans for the facility are approved, Caylor said there will be a few weeks spent on the bid process before construction can begin.

“We will get our staff together once we have the plans and put together a bid package to be sent out,” Caylor said. “It will take a couple of weeks to get the bids back and for our staff to go over them to see who meets the specs and award the bid.”

Although the construction phase won’t begin for several weeks, Caylor said he is optimistic that they can be in the building by the end of the year.

“We are optimistic that we can be in by the end of this year,” Caylor said. “It can be done and that’s what we’re hoping.”

Caylor said funding for the project has been made possible through community donations and support as well as money collected through the program.

“We have some compassionate people in the county to make donations in support of the program,” Caylor said. “We are also lucky to be a self-sustaining department. It’s unusual for any government entity to be self-sustaining, but we are. We pay all our salaries, expenses, electricity, our automobiles — we don’t cost the county anything.”

Caylor said the department provides a valuable service for the county and will be better able to serve the community in the new facility.

“We provide an extremely important service for the community,” Caylor said. “It’s a good program.”