Oconto County Law Enforcement Facility – The Samuels Group
Due to an increasing inmate population, officials of Oconto County, Wisconsin, approved the construction of a new correctional facility after recognizing the potential need 15 years ago. With groundbreaking taking place in August 2015 and completion slated for July 2017, Oconto County Law Enforcement Facility (LEC) is a 148-bed new construction project, which will also house the new sheriff’s department and 911 call center. The new 93,000-square-foot building will connect to the current facility via a walkway. Renovations are also being done to the existing jail to transform it into administrative office space.
For contracting services, Oconto County commissioned The Samuels Group, a Midwest commercial construction contractor specializing in construction management, design-build and general contracting. A midsize firm, The Samuels Group works in numerous sectors including commercial, health care, education and government. The company’s experienced staff assists with new construction, renovations, budget and schedule analysis, preconstruction services, feasibility, funding and on-site analysis. Headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin, The Samuels Group operates additional locations in Waterloo and Des-Moines, Iowa.
The Samuels Group also offers interior space planning, design and commercial furnishing services provided by its sister company, Environments.
From the ground up
The construction process for LEC has included several unique aspects and challenges. “We used aggregate piers for the structure instead of concrete,” says Curt Schleicher, project manager for The Samuels Group. “We had to drill into the bedrock in order to set them but it resulted in savings of approximately $1 million.”
A demolition process also took place on the site as 13 homes were leveled to make way for the new facility. Schleicher notes that the most difficult part of the entire process was removing the piping and foundations and filling in each site. “After that it was pretty much smooth sailing,” he says. “We were fortunate to have such a mild winter, which really helped.”
When building a correctional facility, security is a key design feature. LEC will contain all state-of-the-art security systems, including master controls and more than 120 security cameras. Schleicher also says that masonry was a major scope of the project. “It’s a big contract because so much of a jail is masonry,” he shares. “The mechanical and plumbing was also a big part. There is a toilet in every cell.”
While the facility will not pursue any LEED certification, LEC is being constructed with LEED Certification-intent. “A lot of buildings are being constructed this way,” says Schleicher. “There are still systems that are incorporated into the facility that are energy and cost efficient without pursuing any certification.”
As the construction manager of the project, The Samuels Group did not self-perform any scope of work on LEC. When putting the team together of strategic partners, The Samuels Group reaches out the best local subcontractors and vendors. “We incorporate folks local to wherever we are working,” say Schleicher. “We feel it’s a service to the community and its taxpayers to keep the jobs in the area. We allow any qualified subcontractor to bid on jobs.”
A safe bet
In measuring the progress of each project, The Samuels Group evaluates the entire team of on a weekly basis. These sessions include the foreman and project manager for each subcontractor. “We check in with everybody to see where they’re at and how everything is going,” Schleicher explains. “We look at where we are in the schedule and make sure everyone is keeping up with the timeline.”
Safety is a top priority for The Samuels Group on every job. The company has gone more than 10 years without a lost-time accident. Its impeccable safety record is achieved through its proactive safety program that is applied to every associate and contractor.
In 2012 The Samuels Group achieved 1 million man hours with no lost-time accidents and the company has been awarded the Associated General Contractors Award nine times. With an experience modification rate of .66, The Samuels Group is well below the national average.
Schleicher has been in the construction industry for 20 years and with The Samuels Group for 16. With the addition of Oconto County Law Enforcement Facility, The Samuels Group will continue to measure its accomplishments by a strong team of employees, safety and unrivaled level of customer satisfaction.
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