Ector County Juvenile Justice Center goes back out for bid

The facility initially went out for bid in April 2022.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:09 AM CST
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ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KOSA) - Ector County needs a new juvenile justice center.

“We have a lot of structural problems with the building,” said Maria Sosa, the Ector County Assistant Chief of Juvenile Probation.

Not to mention a new setup to hold children.

“Right now, it’s just a great, big room, and that’s pretty much it,” she added.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Ector County Commissioners Court approved for a new juvenile just center, officially called the Ector County Youth Center, to go out for bid.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The Commissioner’s Court initially looked for bids to replace the 48-year-old facility back in April but quickly encountered problems.

“First off, the cost of building the facility wasn’t what we were budgeted for,” said Albert Aguirre, the Ector County Juvenile Facility Administrator.

That budget is $25 million, raised through certificates of obligation.

So, that meant the project, initially intended to provide 64 beds, a courtyard, and post-adjudication services, had to be severely downsized. Even its new size might be too large.

“Being involved in the process of getting everything we’ve ever wished for, and then being told, ‘Ok, you no longer get that. You get half of what you asked for.’ I think it’s sad and disappointing,” Sosa said.

The new plan calls for a capacity of 32 children, the same number as the current facility; however, it will still get that new pod-style setup.

It’s also still planned to be built near the Ector County Law Enforcement Center.

The timing of the groundbreaking relies on when and if a bidder comes forward.

“You know, it’s what we get,” Aguirre said. “We have to work with what we have. So, at the end of the day, we’ll always work with these kids as best we can.”