MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — In early 2021, a committee made up of Colbert County leaders was formed to collaborate on a possible new jail. One issue the committee couldn’t agree on was the location for the new construction.
The committee has since come to a compromise and settled on remodeling a building that’s already standing—the former Tennessee Valley Authority Chemical Engineering Building located on the TVA Reservation in Muscle Shoals.
“When we located the TVA reservation property with the building already there, all the infrastructure done, it was just too good to pass up,” Colbert County District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Gardiner said.
Gardiner said the new jail would serve as a metro jail, eliminating the need for individual municipalities in Colbert County to have their own.
“We feel like it’s going to be probably the premiere jail in Alabama when we get done,” Gardiner said.
The Volkert Engineering Firm will complete the renovation of the building which Gardiner said is expected to be an efficient operation.
“Volkert has been our architect, engineering, and they’re also the company that built it originally,” Gardiner said. “They had the original plans and that’s been a blessing because that’s sped everything up and so they’ve already got plans of how we’re going to divide it up and remodel it.”
The current Colbert County Jail in Tuscumbia also houses the Tuscumbia City Jail for women. Built in 1962, it was only meant to house 62 inmates, but Gardiner said that’s no longer enough, adding that the jails are, “totally overcrowded like every other jail in Alabama and probably all over the nation. All of our jails are overcrowded and we’re no different.”
Gardiner explained how the new location is a step in the right direction for the entire county.
“It shows that when we want to work together, we have the resources and we’ve come together as a team, Gardiner said. “Everyone’s on board, the municipalities are on board with the county, our legislators are on board, and so I think the support is there to finally get this done—something that’s been needed for a very long time.”
Gardiner said the Colbert County Commission has already started the closing process on the TVA property and should have an update within the next 30 days.