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Mother Nature Causes Setback for Waurika Jail Expansion

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WAURIKA, Okla._The Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the City of Waurika experienced a setback Sunday.

Straight-line winds gusting nearly 40 miles per hour ripped down a wall to their newly-expanding jail.

Two years ago, the city teamed up with the State Department of Corrections and several other counties to raise enough money to expand Waurika's city jail.

Once complete, the expansion will house nearly 120 state prison workers or trustees whose labor is used for city and county projects, which will help keep labor costs down. 

Officials say the building has sustained nearly $20,000 in damage all before the roof was even on.

It's got developers scrambling, but not as much as they initially thought.

They say the project is still on track to be a success, and it'll benefit more than just Waurika in the long run.

For years, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections work center has helped the City of Waurika pinch pennies when it needed to the most.

"The DOC makes a huge impact on Waurika, just the workers alone is over a million dollars," Chuck Brown, the Waurika City Manager said.

Now an expansion to the facility two years in the making is in the works.

Funded by grant money pooled by Comanche and Jefferson counties, and the cities of Ryan and Waurika.

It will double that free workforce, allowing other counties and communities to take part in the much needed money-saving.

"Comanche (county) is going to be able to get more workers, Duncan's going to get more workers, Ryan's going to be able to get more workers, Jefferson County is getting more workers, Waurika...it's going to be for everybody around here," Brown said.

"Officials are hoping the project can get done soon, so Jefferson County, Stephens County, even Comanche County can reap the benefits of the center, but mother nature had a different idea. Strong winds blew this entire wall down to the ground over the weekend. A major setback that nobody saw coming," Brown said.

"It's just a temporary setback, probably in time and money, you're probably looking at $15-$20,000 and about three weeks," Brown added.

Time and money that will have to come from insurance funds, but Brown says you can't put a price tag on helping out overcrowding jails, and improving the region by saving money.

"We've got the jobs already. It's a win-win situation. It's good for them and it's good for us also," Brown said.

Once those wind damage costs are added to the final price, that figure should be around $320,000, but the good news is materials used to build the fallen wall are salvageable.

Officials say they're still on track to cross their original finish line of August first even after the setback.

 

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