An interim remodeling proj-ect to increase the Davis County Jail's inmate capacity has been completed, said Sheriff Brant Johnson, and the first prisoners will occupy the 40-bed dormitory area this weekend.

The remodeled area will house minimum-security prisoners, Johnson said, including drunken-driving offenders and prisoners on work release.The additional beds were added by moving administration offices out of the jail building and onto the second floor of the jail annex next door.

That space was made available by moving several other county agencies, including the Council on Aging and Agriculture Extension Service, out of the annex building and into two nearby homes the county purchased and renovated.

The former administrative offices were converted into two dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, a restroom and shower facility, small dining area and offices for the jail staff.

Much of the renovation in the jail and all of the work in the administrative area was done by inmates, Johnson said, saving the county some money. The sheriff estimated the cost of the conversion at $22,000 and renovating the administration area at $5,000.

The remodeling increases the jail's capacity from 108 to 148 beds, Johnson said, but doesn't solve the jail's overcrowding problem. It also doesn't negate the need for the new, larger jail the county is building in west Farmington.

Site-preparation work is under way now on the 400-bed jail and court complex that will also house the county attorney's offices and sheriff's department. Construction on the $18.5 million facility will begin this fall and will take between 24 and 30 months to complete, the county commissioners estimate.

Figures supplied by the sheriff show the current jail had an average inmate population of 116 prisoners in June, 128 in May, and 131 in April. But the jail has had to house as many as 158 inmates, Johnson said, straining its physical resources and staff.

Johnson also announced that Capt. Phil Leonard is the new jail commander, replacing Capt. James Stewart. Stewart left two weeks ago to be administrator of the state prison facility in Iron County, the sheriff said.