By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Chief Deputy Kelly Rowe did a one on one interview with NewsChannel 11, just a day before he is officially sworn in as Lubbock County's new Sheriff. As he takes the reins from former Sheriff David Gutierrez, Rowe inherits some big responsibilities.
One in particular is the new jail. It's already way behind schedule as it was expected to open April of 2008. "The sheriff's office is ready to move, the moment we have that building and the moment we're through all the final steps we need to, we're ready to move in," said Rowe.
Rowe says they are planning to potentially hit substantial completion sometime around the first of the year. Although the project is past due, Rowe says the overall budget is where it should be. "The project itself is not over budget. Where we have the continuing cost with this, is continuing to have to house inmates in other facilities in the region until we get that building complete and can move them back into Lubbock," said Rowe.
Having to house inmates in surrounding counties is costing taxpayers approximately $3 million a year. In the past Rowe has been in charge of running the jail and the new jail project. When asked if he takes responsibility for the huge delay, he says it has nothing to do with the Sheriff's office.
"We've had some sub-contractors that have been problematic and we're dealing with those issues. Not having to re-do and repeat work over and over, those are the types of things happening out there and I wish I could control more," said Rowe. He also says this isn't unusual for a construction project this big.
Rowe says contractors are currently working on installing electronic and fire safety systems. Once that is complete there are still several steps like training staff and putting in equipment and furniture.
Last month former Sheriff Gutierrez told NewsChannel 11 the hold up on the jail was one reason he decided to demote Don Carter from Major to Deputy. But during our interview with Rowe, he said that was inaccurate.
"I know firsthand Don Carter had nothing to do directly with anything involved with this jail project," said Rowe when asked about Don's demotion.
Other issues Rowe says he will face are having enough patrol officers to deal with the large growth outside of Lubbock city limits and ensuring there are enough investigators to handle case loads coming in a daily basis.
Monday at noon Rowe will officially be sworn in as Sheriff and says he will also announce two new Chief Deputies.
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There is a new sheriff in Lubbock County, and he will be sworn in on Monday.