Jail vote offered as idea in Adams County

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NATCHEZ — An Adams County supervisor suggested Monday the board let voters decide if the county needs a new jail.

The supervisors earlier this year agreed to allow the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to complete a feasibility study into the possibility of replacing the county jail, which Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said has significant maintenance issues and is not up to current correctional standards.

The consulting company completing the study, Benchmark, will not charge the county for the work unless construction of a new facility moves forward.

Email newsletter signup

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said he wants to see the results of the study, but if it recommends a new jail, the county should consider letting the residents vote on the matter. The county does not have the money on hand to finance the new construction without a tax increase, he said.

“If you are going to spend that kind of money to build it and you are going to raise taxes, why don’t we let (voters) share some of that decision,” he said. “Sometimes you can share some of that decision with the people who pay the bills.”

The supervisors did not make a decision about a potential referendums Monday, though Lazarus said the board would need at least 60 days lead time to get it on a ballot.

The sheriff has previously said he is considering the former Johns-Manville industrial site and several sites in the area of the Natchez-Adams County port as a location for the new jail.

In other news:

4Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said he is confident the county will receive additional reimbursement for the FEMA 361 safe room project.

Originally budgeted for $2.9 million, the project bids came in over the amount of federal funding the county was slated to receive.

After the architects, contractors and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials were able to whittle the difference in funding to approximately $160,000 in additional costs, the supervisors authorized the project to move forward on the understanding Owens and others would seek additional reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We anticipate in two to three weeks we should see approval for the additional funds, and we should be turning some dirt early in the new year,” Owens said.

“I feel confident, I still have that 99 percent assurance on that reimbursement. Right now, it is in FEMA’s hands for approval.”

The 10,000-square foot safe room will be located near Natchez High and will be built to withstand the force of an EF5 tornado.

4Road Manager Robbie Dollar informed the board in recent weeks the county has had a problem with residents removing road signs, particularly in the Kingston area.

Supervisors’ President Darryl Grennell said the county had a similar problem in the past.

“About 15 years ago, we had this problem where a lot of road signs were at hunting camps where juveniles were moving them,” he said.

“When you are removing signs, you are endangering people. If a paramedic is trying to get somewhere and there are no road signs, you are keeping them from getting to where they need to be.”

Lazarus said it would be difficult for a juvenile to steal a traffic sign and their parents not know.

“If you’ve got a stop sign, what are you going to do? It’s hard to hide,” he said.

“If you catch them, they need to be punished.”

4The board met in executive session to discuss potential litigation regarding an Emergency Watershed Project.

The board also discussed in executive session the potential sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

After coming back into open session, Grennell said the NRMC discussion was general in nature and the board did not take any action.

Representatives of the hospital’s administration or trustees were not present during the discussion.