Supervisors approve Mitchell County Jail HVAC project | News

Mechanical Engineer Andrew Van Beek from Midwest Engineering provided further details for an HVAC upgrade at the Mitchell County Jail on the Jan 11 MCBOS meeting. He stated his goal was to get the project out for bidding, with an onus on cost savings.

The Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office in Osage

Since Van Beek’s last meeting with the supervisors, Midwest Engineering has made alterations to the design. More changes could be made if they are cost saving measures.

Van Beek added that Midwest Engineering believes it can simplify the dedicated outside air system, which serves the secured areas, and in so doing save around $30,000 to $40,000 on project costs.

A question was raised whether inmate storage needed full air conditioning. Van Beek was not referring to the inmate’s cells, but to a room for inmate property storage.

“It does get a little bit of air conditioning from the dedicated outside air system,” said Van Beek. “No full air conditioning, just some dehumidification, but it’d be a lot cheaper if we’d just heat that and not tie it into the VRF system.”

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Mitchell County Sheriff Greg Beaver said he does not believe Van Beek’s suggestion would be a problem.

Van Beek’s current base bid estimate is between $720,000 and $1.08 million. The controls alternate comes in at an estimated 10 percent of the total project cost, between $80,000 and $120,000.

“But I would not be surprised if it was more along the lines of $100,000 to $150,000 for the control system,” Van Beek said.

The humidification system and portable water treatment—water softener, water filtration—Van Beek estimated at between $110,000 and $165,000. Van Beek recommended using the system, especially if the funding source relies on COVID-19 relief funding, which has provided grants for HVAC upgrades.

“If you want to utilize that to the fullest, then humidification is a must,” Van Beek said.

Midwest Engineering’s cost is 8.5 percent of construction.

Currently, an asbestos inspector is inspecting the roof, which Iowa DNR requires, according to Van Beek. There are also insurance requirements by Mitchell County for the HVAC project.

“I tried,” Van Beek said of keeping costs in the range of his original estimate. “I gave you that $500,000 to a $1 million before doing any kind of detailed designs. Once you start getting up into these more complicated systems to maintain and do air quality control, cost starts to balloon. (Estimates were) also based on older projects. Since then, the costs have gone up anywhere from six percent to 50 percent on certain components.

“I’m still trying to find ways to reduce the cost. We’re trying to do as much as we can before we take the bids…. We are incentivized to find change orders after the project has been issued.”

The pre-bid meeting is scheduled on Jan. 26, providing contractors the opportunity to survey and walk through the site to view preexisting conditions and price bids accordingly. The day of bidding is scheduled for Feb. 9, with bids received in person up to the 3 p.m. at the Mitchell County Auditor’s Office, before being read out loud as a public bidding in the supervisors’ room.

“It’s obvious something needs to be done over there,” said Supervisor Mike Mayer.

“It’s going to cost a (heck) of a lot of money, that’s the only way to put it,” said Supervisor Jim Wherry. “It’s not going to go away. It’s going to have to be done in the future sometime. Someone has to pay for it. Right now we have a funding source. In the future if we do it, it’s going to be on the taxpayers to do it. I don’t like spending this much money, but I don’t know any other way to do it either.”

“Those prices are probably not going to get any better in the foreseeable future,” Van Beek said, adding that the estimates he provided would most likely increase throughout the next two to three years. Midwest Engineering has seen price increases every six months for major equipment.

Van Beek said the county could reject all bids, but could not rebid without making significant material changes.

The supervisors voted to approve the Mitchell County Jail’s HVAC upgrade project.

Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 515-971-6217, or by email at