This article was written for the The Newnan Herald Times

Officials cut ribbon on jail expansion

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expansion of the Coweta County Jail signaled the end of a project that will provide additional resources for inmates and staff.

At the ceremony, held Monday, May 20, Sheriff Lenn Wood said as the inmate population continues growing, more beds will help avoid overcrowding and ensure all inmates are adequately housed.

“We needed this, but I’m afraid it will be full before we know it,” Wood said.

Wood said the Coweta County Jail houses more inmates than it has beds. On the day of the ribbon cutting, there were 423 inmates but only 408 beds.

The expansion allows the jail to house all inmates from Coweta County and the surrounding areas, even when the inmate count exceeds the previous number of beds.

The jail expansion is approximately 54,000 square feet, and according to Wood, the additional beds will help manage the growing inmate population in several ways.

The additional space allows for a new infirmary, crucial for providing inmates with medical care. It also offers more room for mental health treatment.

According to Tim Symonds, the project manager, the expansion also features a larger kitchen, laundry and four dayrooms.

The infirmary has 32 inmate cells, two negative pressure cells, padded isolation cells, treatment rooms, a pharmacy and staff office, the kitchen and laundry.

“The new kitchen and laundry will serve the whole jail and have been oversized to accommodate any future jail expansion,” Symonds said.

The four new day rooms have 44 four-man cells that can house a potential population of 176.

Each day room has six showers, two attorney-inmate counseling or consulting rooms, and space for exercise and recreation within the day rooms themselves.

In April 2022, the Coweta County Public Finance Authority approved bonds totaling $35 million for the county’s jail expansion project.

The bonds are revenue bonds secured in an intergovernmental agreement between the Public Finance Authority and the county and will be repaid over 25 years.

Symonds said the construction contract cost was a guaranteed maximum price of $36.2 million. He noted they came in under that budgeted price.

County Commissioner John Reidelbach thanked those in attendance, including those who helped make the vision a reality.

“The project has been coming for a long time, and I am thrilled to see it come to fruition,” he said.

Along with the county administration team, Reidelbach thanked construction partners New South Construction, K.A. Oldham Design and Paragon Consulting Group.

Construction on the jail expansion project began in September 2022 and wrapped up in April 2024.