Lack of plan approval increases costs for juvenile hall group home
Fuller subsequently determined the plans for the almost $103,000 project did not meet residential codes.
“This generated discussion between all parties involved and a request to modify plans for submission,” according to Martin’s letter.
The county’s building contractor, DML Construction, of Verdi, Nev., eventually determined the changes would not exceed the $10,294 built-in to the contract for change orders.
Saying he wanted to make sure such a mistake didn’t happen again, District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman recently asked “how a project of this magnitude could have got to the point where we actually went to bid … and awarded the bids” without design approval from the planning department.
He asked County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen to investigate and come back with report on how the oversight happened.
“A private-sector person going in sometimes has to submit his plans four or five times before he finally gets a sign off on a set of plans that can then go to construction,” Chapman said at the board’s Tuesday, Sept. 15 meeting.
He added, “That disconnect really bothers me, the fact that one hand of the county isn’t talking to the other hand, but yet the private sector is run through that meat grinder constantly.”
A change in leadership may have caused the oversight. County officials opened the bids for the six-bed group home at the juvenile hall on Chestnut Street in Susanville at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 5, when former Chief Probation Officer Roy Thiels was still working for the county.
“The construction plans and specifications are now completed and under the review by the County Building Official,” Theils reported in March.
Thiels resigned, effective April 27, to take a job as a correctional officer at the California Correctional Center. The board subsequently appointed then-assistant chief Martin to the top probation job.
In March, the board approved a budget for the project from state money in the criminal justice facility construction fund to remodel the juvenile hall to transform the original section built in the 1990s into a six-bed group home. The county averages 10 minors placed each month in group homes in other counties.
“The re-model of the older Juvenile Hall Building and some minor re-modeling of the newer Juvenile Hall Building is necessary to meet the requirements for a group home as set by the California Department of Social Services and to allow complete separation between the areas controlled by the Juvenile Detention Facility staff and areas designated for group home use,” according to the staff report at the March 13 meeting.
Thiels explained the need for the remodel to the board in February, saying the group home may potentially save the county $54,000 a year on out-of-county group home placements.
“We really don’t want to be sending those kids out of county,” he said.
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