A groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday began work on a project approved by voters in August, but which has been held up by two lawsuits and a site change.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Last August, Henry County residents voted for the construction of a new county law center and jail. One location change, two lawsuits and nine months later, community leaders finally broke ground at the Grand Street site.

Sheriff Rich McNamee spoke in front of a large crowd Wednesday morning, thanking a long list of people who helped the project come to fruition, including former sheriffs, Midwest Construction Consultants, all contracted workers, the board of supervisors, county auditor, COPS committee, sheriff’s department employees, his family and God.

“Obviously between everyone mentioned already we got our message through that this was something that needed to be done for our community,” said McNamee. “The voters believed in us. They voted positively, and here we are.”

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Sporting hard hats, the sheriff, Henry County board of supervisors and others shoveled up the first scoops of dirt from the new jail location. Within the next month, McNamee said the grassy, green field will become brown and muddy. A year from now, he hopes to see the new facility standing.

Greg Moeller, chairman of the board of supervisors, said it may take closer to 15 to 17 months for the entire project to be completed, but he’s proud of the work getting started this summer.

“It was a lot of work,” said Moeller, “A lot of diligent work by a lot of people in the community, and kudos to the jail committee for all the work they put in.”

Moeller also thanked the residents who voted for the jail project, so the county will no longer need to transport its prisoners to other counties for housing. McNamee agreed, saying on Tuesday he wrote a check for $32,000 for the housing of prisoners in other counties in the last month.

“With the conclusion of the project, we are going to start seeing that revenue come back,” said McNamee. “Our tax dollars are going to stay right here on this property taking care of our own stuff.”

And with that, the crowd erupted in applause.

Henry County voters approved a $9.1 million referendum to build the new law center. The construction site presented to voters was swapped for the Grand Street one to clear away a lawsuit filed against the city of Mount Pleasant by the owner of a nursing home adjacent to the original site on Iris Street.

Bids received in April for the 96-bed jail and Henry County Sheriff's office came in lower than expected.

Earlier this month, after a Henry County judge dismissed a temporary injunction filed by a jilted jail consultant, supervisors awarded contracts totaling almost $7 million.