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Commission at standstill on jail

At the request of Commissioner Gary Hanks, the subject of the Butler County jail was once again brought to the table at Tuesday's meeting of the Butler County Commission.

The progress of the jail has been put on hold at the past couple of meetings due to the recent death of Commissioner Joe Hendrix.

Hanks requested the topic be added to the agenda due to Hendrix's position being filled by Frank Hickman. "I asked for the jail to be put on the agenda because at our last meeting, we had a roll call vote concerning the jail and it was a 2-2 tie. Now that Commissioner Hickman is here, I would like to take it off the shelf and move forward on the project," said Hanks. "I would like to put it in the form of a motion to restart the jail project."

Upon voting, Commissioner William L. Phillips voted to resume working on the jail project while Commissionners Jesse McWilliams and Daniel Robinson voted to hold on the issue. Hickman said that because he was not up to par on the project that he would have to abstain from voting.

Both Robinson and McWilliams expressed concern over continuing the project at this point because of the financing of the jail.

"We have guaranteed $1.6 million so far to the Butler County Industrial Development Authority (BCIDA) which is already part of our debt service," said Robinson. "We have to have the funds before we can build it."

"We're working toward a jail. We are putting money back, we've purchased the property and we are getting prepared for it," said McWilliams. "We are going to build a new jail, but we need to take our time. We want to lead Butler County in the right direction."

Robinson reported to the commission that the Butler County jail is currently housing 36 inmates. "I looked at the jail this morning and everything looks good. They are doing well with what they have over there," said Robinson.

Ricky McLaney of the Butler County Commission for Economic Development spoke to the commission, requesting to expand the enterprise zone to include the Butler County Industrial Park. "This would include the 160 acres in the industrial park north of town and

also 240 acres that backs the city limits," said McLaney. "Butler County is one of the state's approved enterprise zone areas, but as the governing body of Butler County, you have to approve where those areas are, and you must approve if those 400 acres can be considered part of that zone. It will give industries that come into this area to be part of an enterprise-designated area, allowing them to get certain tax credits."

The commission approved McLaney's request.

In other news, the commission:

approved the purchasing of an automobile for the Butler County Commission; authorized Judge Mac-Donald Russell to adjust the salary on one clerk for a position change;

named Whitney National Bank, People's Bank and Trust and Bancorp South as the bank depositories for FY2001-2002;

approved Bill Lewis, chairman of the Greenville Water Works and Sewer Board and Frank Hickman, Butler County Commissioner to the Butler County Industrial Development Authority board;

approved a resolution for the application for grant funding of the Butler County Industrial Park;

approved the minutes of the October meeting;

approved amendment to the general fund which will decrease funding for housing prisoners by $26,000, and will transfer to the court fee fund for the jail project.