County Commissiondiscusses new jail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 16, 2001

New jail construction topped the agenda of Monday night’s meeting of the Butler County Commission. In a 3-2 vote, the commission rendered the decision to hire Gardnyr Michael Capital, Inc. to assist in the financing of the Butler County jail.

Chairman Gary Hanks said, &uot;We made progress a while ago and now it's time to get the jail going. The sheriff’s running out of room and we need to get it going.&uot;

Estimated cost of the new jail is approximately $3 million with a design similar to the jail in Lowndes County. The cost of the jail will be funded through a loan and through the additional court costs passed on June 6, 2000, and annual oil payments to the county.

In addition, Hanks mentioned increasing sales tax by 1.5 cents to aid in completing payments of the new jail. However, Hanks said the new sales tax would be in place for approximately three years, or until the jail is paid off in full.

&uot;We’ve got to have a jail,&uot; said Hanks. &uot;We’ve got to make a push on the money and go ahead and get started.&uot;

Presently, the jail is housing 49 prisoners. Sheriff Diane Harris informed the commission that Bulter County is presently housing 33 state prisoners, but &uot;the state is not paying the county for the state inmates.&uot;

Harris also said that presently there are &uot;a bunch of people in jail and we need a place to put them. I have people in Conecuh and Lowndes counties that they are housing because of our overcrowding.&uot;

&uot;They are on top of stuff at the jail now, but it is old and they are doing what they can,&uot; said Hanks.

Also on Monday’s agenda was the renovation of the Butler County Courthouse Annex, which is being headed by Circuit Clerk Allen Stephenson. According to Hanks, &uot;We talked about turning this building into a judicial systems building and when the first set of plans was handed to us, the Commission office was completely gone.&uot;

One concern that arose was security of the building. &uot;Security issues have come up in discussion of the renovation,&uot; said Hanks. &uot;If this building were turned into a judicial building, there would be one door in and one door out.&uot;

&uot;I’m opposed to spending money. We spent lot of money to get it (the commission chambers) like we wanted it. Originally, we weren’t supposed to be moved,&uot; said Commissioner Joe Hendrix.

&uot;From the initial plan, we said we did not want to tear this part up. The last set of plans showed we were not in the plans. My take on this issue is that we build around us,&uot; said Commissioner Daniel Robinson. &uot;Let Allen come in and tell us what he knows and we'll tell him what we want. I think this should be done before we keep spending money.&uot;

Also on Monday night, County Engineer Dennis McCall gave an update in the engineer's report. McCall said that residents of the Edgeview Heights community have requested speed bumps be placed throughout the neighborhood. However, McCall said that he would advise against putting speed breakers on public roads because there is more liability that comes with speed bumps rather than with the actual speeding.

McCall also informed the Commission that excavation in Garland is scheduled for this week and that the Bowden Bridge project is completed.

It was also reported that Gloria Hartley and the Spring Creek Homemakers Club had expressed interest in starting an Adopt-a-Mile program in Honoraville near the Pigeon Creek Bridge.

In reference to the program, Hanks asked, &uot;What kind of liability will that put on the taxpayers and the county?&uot;

The concern of Hanks was the liability of having pedestrians on the sides of the roads.

The issue was tabled until further information could be presented.