St. Mary’s officials welcomed all to a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning for the county jail’s planned addition and renovation.

Rebecca Bridgett, St. Mary’s County administrator, kicked off the ceremony by welcoming the commissioners along with several other guests, including Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris.

Burris said he was very grateful to the commissioners for allowing the town to move forward with the addition and renovations on the St. Mary’s County Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

“The center has needed this for years. The deplorable conditions were noticeable,” Burris said of the state of the facility.

The newest addition approved by St. Mary’s commissioners includes a female housing unit, which once completed will contain 64 beds and also serve as a swing space to temporarily house inmates who are displaced from construction while other updates are installed.

The planned renovation also features a medical clinic and infirmary, an expanded laundry area, a new fire alarm system, a new pretrial services suite, upgraded HVAC systems (including air conditioning) and a new central control room with an updated security system.

Commissioner President Randy Guy (R) took the stage to address the large crowd that was gathered behind the detention center in Leonardtown.

“It’s not a baseball field, it’s a problem that all counties, all states need. … We hope to start the rehab right here,” said Guy. “I’m proud we are doing this. It’s a necessary evil, you might say.”

This renovation will be a large expense to the county but it will be worth it, and when it is finished it will be a great asset to the community, Guy added.

A contract was awarded to Scheibel Construction of Huntingtown at the end of last year for the $28.5 million project.

Sheriff Tim Cameron (R) agreed that the upgrades to the jail are a vital component of the local justice system.

“These inmates are returning to a city near you so it is important that we do what we can while they are here,” Cameron said, before giving thanks to the county commissioners for helping make the project possible.

The ceremony concluded with the commissioners as well as other St. Mary’s officials, sporting hard hats, breaking ground for the jail’s additions.

Construction for the project is to begin in December, with the planned completion date in late 2021 or early 2022.

In other business

On Tuesday, the commissioners also approved temporary property access to St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission after requesting access to the Great Mills Pool property, approximately 34,419 square feet, in order to install a well.

The temporary access will have little impact on land and program operations nearby and should not cause any disturbance in the Bay Ridge Community, according to county documents. The construction period will last between four to five months and MetCom will pay all costs associated with repairs, if necessary. A temporary right-of-way entry through the Great Mills Pool property will be installed during construction. The agreement begins in December and lasts through next June.

The commissioners also approved a traffic ordinance to reduce the posted speed limit on Mattapany Road for 3,735 feet from Point Lookout Road from 40 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour, as that section is hilly, narrow and unable to be widened because of archaeological sites and stream crossings, according to county documents.

In the interest of public safety and with the aim to eliminate hazardous conditions, the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation has deemed the speed reduction for this particular stretch of road necessary, especially after the construction of St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s new Jaime L. Roberts Stadium.

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews