Four architectural firms have bid to get the job of revamping and potentially expanding the size of the Erath County Jail.

On Monday, county commissioners received bids from Southwest Architects Inc. of Fort Worth, Armand Fisher Architects of Weatherford, Drg Architects of San Antonio and Burns Architecture of Fort Worth.

All four firms presented thick proposals and promised to do the work in an efficient and effective manner.

Commissioners plan on reviewing the bids before deciding on a selection.

Erath County officials continue to look into ways to improve a jail that a recent Texas Commission on Jails Standards’ report concluded is too small to manage the jail’s current population.

According to the analysis, the jail is already well behind the number of beds it needs to house inmates. The 18-year-old facility has 72 beds, but needs at least 96 to meet current standards. By the year 2025, that figure increases to 110 jail beds. The report also suggests, at that time, the jail add an additional 48 beds “to act as a buffer for future unexpected growth and the large number of outstanding warrants held by Erath County and municipalities located within Erath County.”

The analysis states that with an increasing population, highway traffic, a growing number of area tourist attractions and the county’s 3,000 outstanding warrants, the projected inmate population is expected to increase.

Beginning this week, County Judge Tab Thompson and commissioners Randy Lowe, Lynn Tidwell, Doug Eberhart and Jerry Martin will be dividing into “teams” to visit other jails that have been upgraded or expanded.

“It’s simply a matter of going and gathering information,” Thompson said, adding that he expects the “teams” to visit a total of about 12 facilities this week and next week.

Thompson urged commissioners to take pictures and fill out a short questionnaire on each visited facility.

“I think it is going to be interesting,” Thompson said. “We’ll see a lot of things and have a good grasp of what’s going on.”

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.