Leaders of both facilities and former and present county commissioners officially broke ground on the $25 million project today on South Church Street in front of the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center.
Juvenile Court Judge Donna Scott Davenport was elated after waiting seven years for the work to begin.
"Thank you Lord," Davenport said as the shovels dug into the dirt.
The juvenile justice center will house Juvenile Court, the detention center and youth services. It should be completed in March.
About 80 beds will be added for women at the Correctional Work Center. About 260 more beds in a dormitory style will house men who are non-violent offenders who work during their incarceration. It should be completed in December.
Former county Commissioner Faye Elam, who chaired the Property Management Committee, said the new centers made the priority list in 2000. When the county received a $39 million estimate, the County Commission took control, did research and accepted the less expensive $25 million project.
The architect is RGAnderson, the owner's representative is Jim Stivender of Cornerstone Consulting Group and the designer is Brian Tune of Tune Design in Chattanooga. Ralph Lee is project manager.
Elam described the project as a team effort through the research to groundbreaking stages.
"The budget amount is palatable to county taxpayers," Elam said.
Davenport said she knew when the County Commission created the Juvenile Court judgeship they would create a facility as well.
Commissioners committed to putting families and at-risk children a priority.
"I see it as a blessed day and the first day of awesome things to come as we all work together to make sure that our troubled children are evaluated and treated and our abused children and troubled families are protected," Davenport said.
Davenport looks forward to working with correctional superintendent Alan Miller and detention director Lynn Duke.
Miller said the correctional work center is a minimum-security facility housing prisoners who committed misdemeanors such as drug offenses, DUIs and thefts. Inmates work at public jobs while incarcerated.
"The cost of keeping people in custody is tremendous," Miller said. "Having a workhouse like environment allow you to benefit from workhouse labor."
Inmates will stay in dormitory-type housing.
"We're just excited about this project," Miller said. "Its taken tremendous work from both current and former county commissioners and county mayors. It's really not a dream (anymore). It's a reality."