Canadian County proceeds with historic jail rehab agreement

Commissioners must decide ‘how far do we go?’ with renovation, chair says

Yukon’s Erick Westfahl, of Redhawk Construction, is due to serve as construction manager for a repair/remodeling project at the old historic Canadian County Jail near the county courthouse in El Reno. Pending approval of a formal agreement, Canadian County Commissioners will have Westfahl prepare a proposal outlining estimated costs. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – Canadian County Commissioners agreed this week to proceed with finalizing an agreement to use a construction manager for a proposed repair/remodeling project at the historic county jail.

Yukon’s Erick Westfahl of Redhawk Construction has been tapped to provide construction management services for the old jail building, at the corner of Rogers and Evans.

Constructed more than 100 years ago, this county-owned building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is adjacent to the renovated stables near the Canadian County Courthouse and Administration Building.

With two new members now on board, Canadian County Commissioners discussed the historic jail rehab at their Jan. 23rd meeting.

Dave Anderson

Redhawk’s construction management fee will be 7% of “whatever we spend” on the project, according to Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson.

“How far do we want to go into the renovation process?” said Anderson, the District 2 commissioner.

“I just want to get a roof put on the building to stop the deterioration of the interior. There’s not a lot of potential use for the interior the way it is, but we’re not in an immediate need for what that space might provide.”

All three county commissioners – including newly seated members Tracey Rider and Tom Manske – will consider formally approving the construction management agreement at an upcoming meeting.

Redhawk’s Westfahl will then prepare cost estimates for the possible repair and/or rehabilitation of the old jail structure, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

Should commissioners decide the estimated renovation cost is too high based on the building’s value, they don’t have to proceed with a construction project.

Westfahl previously warned county commissioners “this could be a significant cost.”

“It’s not ‘worst-case scenario’, but we’re pretty close,” he advised.

Canadian County previously budgeted $150,000 to repair the historic jail’s roof.

However, county commissioners realize the cost would likely be much higher to make other improvements due to the building’s structural condition.

“In the event (Westfahl’s) guaranteed, not-to-exceed price is higher than we want to go, we would owe him about $7,000,” Chairman Anderson told Rider and Manske.

The proposed agreement with Redhawk Construction also calls for the county to hire an engineer that would work with the construction manager to identify what must be fixed.

Signing this agreement will obligate Canadian County “in the neighborhood of $10,000-$15,000 to find out what it would take to get repairs done on the facility,” Anderson added.

“He will give us a guaranteed maximum price for the project. That will be another opportunity for us to move forward or say, ‘that’s outside of our budget’.”

In March 2022, Canadian County Commissioners approved a conditional partial release of a 1995 lease agreement between Canadian County and Preservation El Reno for the historic jail building.



In other business at their weekly meeting Jan. 23, Canadian County Commissioners approved:

  • A resolution allowing the Sheriff’s Office to accept a donation from Allstate Insurance of a Honda Accord for law enforcement purposes. Undersheriff Kevin Ward explained this vehicle was stolen out of New York and has a “diminished value” because the factory VIN plate was removed. The sheriff’s office will use it for narcotics enforcement.
  • A resolution allowing the sheriff to accept a $100 donation from Dennis Sorensen to use for the K-9 program.
  • Sale of property in the Keith’s Addition in El Reno to bidder Jansel Agamez for $100. The property will be placed back on the county’s tax roll.
  • Seeking bids for portable cement crusher services for District 1.
  • A resolution declaring county equipment as surplus for District 1: Desktop computer, copier, printer, dump truck, tractor, crushing plant, backhoe/loader, compactor, air compressor, excavator, generator, rotary cutter, and trench packer. Many of these items will be sold a county surplus auction.
  • A resolution declaring county equipment as surplus for the Free Fair department – an animal scale acquired in 1969.

Undersheriff Ward presented the weekly county jail report showing an inmate population totaling 216, with 189 prisoners at the El Reno detention center and 27 housed in other contracted counties.