New sheriff’s complex ahead of schedule

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010



LULING – St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s officials said Monday that construction of a two-story storm resisting building to house several of the department’s divisions is running slightly ahead of schedule.

Maj. Sam Zinna, who spearheaded the project and has been monitoring construction process since the groundbreaking last year, said the new Law Enforcement Complex could be ready for use by the Sheriff’s Office by early October, barring any unforeseen delays.

“The original contract completion date is the first week of November, but I would say at this point we are about 92 percent complete,” Zinna said. “We are actually expecting to have it turned over to us by Oct. 4.”

Zinna said the 34,000-square-foot $6.6 million building will consolidate the Sheriff’s Office enforcement operations into one place. He said the complex, located on Sugarland Parkway just off the Hale Boggs Bridge in Luling, would house the department’s patrol, detective and juvenile divisions, as well as the crime lab.

“The building will eliminate the need for several divisions to be scattered across the parish in different buildings,” Zinna said. “It will also give each division more space in which to operate.”

In addition to the home office inside the St. Charles Parish Courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office operates assorted divisions out of temporary or leased property in Luling, New Sarpy and St. Rose. Zinna said the distance has made it difficult on some occasions for certain divisions to communicate and share data. He said the new building would include a large roll call room, a large multi-purpose room and more office space.

“It will accommodate our personnel better,” Zinna said. “Having our detectives in the same building as our patrol division officers will really make things better in the long run.”

Sheriff Greg Champagne proposed his plans for the building in January 2009. The first round of bids came back that June, but Champagne rejected them after the apparent low bidder, Catco General Contractors, had made a miscalculation on materials costs and had to raise the bid from $7.053 million to $7.794 million.

The project was re-bid in July, and Fort Worth-based Parish General Contractors outbid 14 other firms for the project. Zinna said Parish’s bid was $6.3 million, but the Sheriff’s Office is accepting two of the three bid alternates to bring the project total to $6.6 million.

“The alternates include construction of 2,000 square feet of storage space, a kennel for the K-9 unit and 6,500 square feet of covered parking for storage for special purpose vehicles,” Zinna said.

Zinna said the main building would be built to sustain 150 mph winds and could be used as a shelter for Sheriff’s Office personnel in the event of an emergency.

He said the building would be equipped to run on a temporary generator if needed and added that the Sheriff’s Office may eventually pursue a more permanent generator in the future.

Funding for construction of the complex came from a series of loans that are also funding renovations to the parish’s old jail facility on the third floor of the courthouse.