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County Hires Jail Consultant, House Bill Passes First Stage

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Work is underway at home and and in the state’s capital to gain legislative support for constructing a regional jail in Yalobusha County.

    The project moved forward last Thursday as Yalobusha Supervisors voted to hire a consultant and House Bill 988 moved out of the House corrections committee and to appropriations.

    House Bill 988 was authored by Representative Tommy Reynolds ,authorizing the Department of Corrections to contract with Yalobusha County to build a jail. Since the inception of the bill, the bill has been amended to include a number of counties who are also competing for a regional jail.    

    “I guess I am glad to be on appropriations,” Reynolds said about one of several roles he performs as a legislator while the bill currently sits in appropriations. Even if money is appropriated for several counties on this bill, a similar bill has to pass through the Senate side and travel across Governor Haley Barbour’s desk before becoming law.

    At that time, the Mississippi Department of Corrections will likely determine in which order counties would be funded.

    “The wheels can always come off in any part of the legislative process,” Reynolds explains.


Extra Help

    Consultant and lobbyist Irb Benjamin began working for Yalobusha County last Thursday morning, following a unanimous vote by supervisors in a recessed meeting in Water Valley.

    Although Benjamin comes with a quarter-million price tag, his firm Jail Development Management & Consulting, will walk the project through the legislative process and continue in the design and construction of the facility.

    Per the contract signed last Thursday, Benjamin will only be paid if legislators approve the bill and the county issues the revenue bonds for the project.

    The decision by supervisors came a day after county officials toured several correctional facilities in the state, including one that Benjamin had worked with.

    Also pushing the project at the state level is Yalobusha County Economic Development District (YCEDD) director Bob Tyler who has worked with legislatures during session to push the project along.


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