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Cape County approves EOC construction bid

Excavation work has begun to make room for the new addition to the Cape Girardeau County Jail. The addition will add 320 new beds, in addition to other safety and operation improvements. Photo by Jay Forness

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a $4.8 million bid from Sides Construction last month to build the new Emergency Operation Center for the county and signed a contract with the construction company on Thursday, May 4.

Sides had the lowest bid of five construction companies for the project, with Kiefner Brothers Inc., Penzel Construction, Robinson Construction Company and Zoellner Construction.

The county approved Sides’ base bid of $4,817,343 and did not add any of the bid’s alternates totaling $56,500. Commissioner Paul Koeper said the alternates were for work that could be done by county employees. “We will do the alternates ourselves,” he said.

The project is funded primarily by $5.3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding, with any additional funding needed for the project coming from the county’s capital improvements fund.

The county purchased six acres of land near Interstate 55’s East Main Street exit in December for $750,000, which will be used for this project.

The new Emergency Operation Center will be around 7,000 square feet and will include administrative offices for the county’s emergency management employees, meeting space that can be used by state and federal agencies during a disaster response and storage space for emergency management equipment such as generators.

The building is designed to “safe room” standards to be able to withstand more than 200 mile per hour winds. The county hired Dille Pollard in June 2022 for architectural and engineering work for the project.

In other action:

• Penzel Construction has begun work on the county jail addition and renovations to the historic Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson.

The county approved a change order on April 27 that increases the construction cost by $940,332. The changes included upgrades to the new laundry facility and kitchen, adding more lockers in the locker room, increasing the height of railings on the mezzanine stairs in the addition, upgrading the replacement cell doors and improving the jail’s water management system.

“We don’t want to go back in and upgrade the cell doors to swinging doors after we are done with this project,” Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said. “This is a fluid process.”

The water management system updates will be partially funded through a grant obtained by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office.

Excavation work at the upper parking lot to the north of the current jail began on April 17 to make room for the new jail addition.

The county purchased the homes at 204, 208 and 2012 Cherry Street to allow for additional parking for the jail. Koeper said the county plans to add a temporary asphalt surface on the new parking lot. He said the asphalt will last two to three years before a concrete surface will be made for the parking lot after the jail is finished.

Demolition work inside the historic courthouse has also begun. Once demolition is finished inside the courthouse, HVAC and electrical work will begin.

• The commission approved a $2.1 million asphalt bid from Paving Pros for upcoming roadwork at a cost of $89.50 per ton. Paving Pros was the lowest of three bids, with Jokerst Paving and Apex Paving also submitting bids.

Koeper said the price of asphalt has grown rapidly over the past few years, making it harder for the county to pave roads. “Last year it was $72 a ton, this year it is $98 a ton,” he said. “A few years ago, we were getting it for $52 a ton. It’s frustrating and people wonder why we can’t pave more roads.”

• Work on a new radio tower that will improve communication on the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (MOSWIN) is starting, with Emergency Management Director Mark Winkler saying preliminary groundwork is expected to begin this week.

The new tower, which will be located near the Trail of Tears area, will help fill communication gaps in the MOSWIN radio system in the northern part of the county and along the Mississippi River.

The county received a $395,000 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Port Security Grant Program to partially fund the project. Once the tower is completed, the State of Missouri will take over ownership of the tower and will pay for any continued maintenance.

The commissioners approved a $79,674 contract with Brown & Root Industrial Services to install the tower. Winkler said on May 4 that the tower equipment has been assembled in Jefferson City, but has not been tested yet.

• The commission approved the Cape Girardeau County Collector’s annual settlement. The collector’s office collected $84,361,800 from March 1, 2022, to Feb. 28, 2023.

The commission also approved the abatement of unpaid 2018 personal property taxes totaling $81,217. Collector Barbara Gholson said these back taxes, which are removed after four years, are mostly from those who have died or moved away.

• The commission approved the $112,433 purchase of a new digital storage system from ISG Technologies. The county’s current system, which was purchased in 2018, will no longer receive security updates or support in November.

The new network system will have 84 terabytes of storage, with the ability to add additional cloud-based storage if needed. “In an ideal world, we are storing very little data onsite in five years,” Information Technology Director Eric McGowen said.

The county’s current system included 30 terabytes of storage, which McGowen said was fully used. He added the cost of the new system includes three years of support, and the county should receive the new storage device in the next few months.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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