Structural engineer to evaluate Canadian County’s historic jail

Canadian County Commissioners will consider building rehab

Yukon’s Erick Westfahl, of Redhawk Construction Inc., stands in front of the historic county jail at the corner of Rogers and Evans in El Reno. At Westfahl’s recommendation, Canadian County Commissioners on Oct. 24 hired Structures America Innovative Engineering of Edmond to evaluate the condition of the old jail building. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – A structural engineer has been selected to evaluate the condition of an historic Canadian County building as county officials consider renovations.

The old county jail, at the corner of Rogers and Evans, has fallen into disrepair in recent years. The roof has partially caved in, causing substantial damage underneath.

Canadian County Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Oct. 24, voted 3-0 to hire the structural engineer to evaluate the building’s condition before deciding whether to proceed with a rehab project.

Structures America Innovative (SAI) Engineering will:

  • Make a site visit and inspect the roof and structure
  • Furnish a structural report based on the site visit and provide recommendations

The Edmond company will be paid a fixed fee not to exceed $2,000 for the assessment.

Commissioners agreed to contract with SAI Engineering at the recommendation of Yukon’s Erick Westfahl, of Redhawk Construction Inc.

“The structural engineer will do an evaluation to see if it’s feasible to re-roof the building – or if it’s beyond repair,” Westfahl told commissioners. “My initial opinion is that it’s certainly feasible.

“We need to stop the damage and evaluate what needs to be replaced, by someone who’s qualified as a structural engineer.”

A written evaluation report will be submitted to Canadian County Commissioners for review before they decide the next step.

If Canadian County’s historic jail building can be repaired, Westfahl hopes to oversee the structure’s renovation.

“Redhawk Construction would like to submit a construction management proposal to manage the project,” Westfahl said. “This would include soliciting competitive bids for all trades that would be necessary, including demolition, the structural work and the roofing.

“Those would be the three major separate bid packages.”

The structural engineer could prepare construction design plans at an added cost.



Canadian County Commissioners this spring solicited bids to make roof repairs to the county-owned building, which was constructed between 1908 and 1913.

However, no contractor was interested enough in the project to submit a proposal.

“From my experience, it’s just frankly too much work for a roofing contractor to do and to take on the liability of a roof structure that could be failing,” Westfahl advised commissioners this week. “Visually, it appears that that’s so.”

There are “so many variables” for roofing contractors to consider with this project – such as, whether a new deck or new rafters are required, Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson said.

“It’s not just putting a metal structure on top of that,” Anderson pointed out.

Work crews would need to use lifts and scaffolding for a total truss and deck replacement before a new roof could be installed, Westfahl told commissioners in late August.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “But there’s a lot of evaluation that needs to happen first.”

After no bids were received this spring, District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart suggested commissioners consider using a construction manager like they did with the Canadian County Expo & Event Center project.

The historic Canadian County Jail is adjacent to the renovated stables near the Canadian County Courthouse and Judicial Building.

In 1985, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Canadian County already budgeted $150,000 to repair the roof, but commissioners previously indicated the cost will likely be much higher to make all needed improvements due to the building’s deteriorating condition.



In other business at their Oct. 24th meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:

  • Designation of Lena Marquez as purchasing agent, Kendra Campbell as assistant purchasing agent and Lindsey Garrett as second assistant purchasing agent for the Canadian County Clerk’s Office.
  • An agreement with Francotyp Postalia for a postage machine at the Canadian County Health Department.

Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward presented the weekly county jail report showing an inmate population totaling 231, with 190 prisoners at the El Reno detention center and 41 in other counties.