GOSHEN — Without installing a new cooling tower this spring, the Elkhart County Jail could be without heat or air conditioning in the summer.
A tower to augment the jail’s cooling system could take several weeks to set up, so Elkhart County officials signed an emergency resolution Tuesday seeking bids for the project. The emergency resolution allows the county commissioners to bypass a public advertising process and invite two vendors to bid on the project, according to state code. The quotes must come from a pair of vendors known for working on public works projects.
County administrator Tom Byers said the jail’s chiller is inefficient. The system pulls water from a pond near the county’s landfill, but the chiller’s capacity is inadequate and the water’s temperature is not as cool as it needs to be, Byers said. The jail has been supplementing the water supply with groundwater from a well, so a cooling tower would also add water storage.
The county commissioners are seeking bids for the cooling tower project from the Hydronic and Steam Equipment Company of South Bend and Shambaugh and Son of Fort Wayne.
Byers said the county would likely pull from two funds to pay for the new tower. The county would use up to $150,000 left over in the original construction budget for the jail and as much as $150,000 from the county’s environmental special projects fund, which was originally fed by money generated by the landfill and later by a Tax Increment Financing District that was set up in the area.