Crawford County elected officials will meet today with three architect companies to look over design and cost presentations for a new jail.

Crawford County Judge John Hall, Sheriff Ron Brown and Justice of the Peace Lloyd Cole will meet with architects from HMN Architects Inc., SouthBuild TEAM L.L.C. and Cromwell at 10 a.m.

Hall, Brown and Cole will be looking over each company’s design and costs proposal, and asking pertinent questions, Hall said.

"The main thing I’m looking for is the cost," Hall said. "I need 260-plus beds and the costs."

Brown and Cole each will have their own topics to discuss with the architects, he said.

Brown has been meeting with county officials for more than a year, working on ideas to relieve conditions at the county jail.

Chronic overcrowding, under-staffing, improper inmate segregation and inadequate space, among other things, have caused the Crawford County Detention Center to fail inspection several times. The jail has been on probation since November 2011.

Brown found a temporary fix by placing inmates in outside detention centers, but housing and transportation costs continue to increase and it is not sure how long that resolution can be maintained, Brown told JPs in previous meetings.

All three architectural companies that will give their presentations today have extensive experience building jails, are cost effective and will use local contractors, Hall said. They were chosen from a list of seven, he said.

"We just picked out the one that we have seen some of their work before, and were aware of their background," Hall said.

JPs are invited to sit in on the presentations, but it will be Brown, Cole and himself making the decision on which jail proposal is best for the county, Hall said.

It will take several weeks to make a final decision on the architect, Hall said, and it will not be brought in front of JPs at the quorum court until after the end of the year. The main focus for the December meeting will be to pass the budget, he said.

Hall added that "there will be no cost to the county until we are certain we will be able to do the project," which he said will be determined after a county-wide vote on a sales tax to fund construction of a new jail.