COFFEEVILLE – Bills in the House and Senate are still alive that would allow Mississippi Department of Corrections to contract with Yalobusha County to build a regional jail.
Yalobusha is one of 10 counties listed on Senate Bill 2462.
A similar bill in the House, HB 988, and SB 2462 passed a full floor vote in late February in each of the chambers and currently rest in appropriations. If funding is authorized in appropriations for these regional jails, a final hurdle would be approval from Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Although 10 counties are listed on the bill, it is not likely that each county would be funded in what could become a competitive contest. Other counties listed on the bills include Attala, Claiborne, Tishomingo, Hancock, Lawrence, Copiah, DeSoto, Benton and Noxubee.
“It sounds like if anybody gets funded, I believe it will be Yalobusha County,” Joe McCraney told supervisors at the “first Monday” supervisor meeting on March 3 in Coffeeville. McCraney works as a governmental specialist for North Central Planning and Development District.
“You have a lot of clout there (in Jackson),” McCraney said, adding that he believed that Yalobusha County is leading the pack.
Part of the “clout” McCraney mentioned referred to the lobbying efforts of Yalobusha County Economic Development District Director Bob Tyler, who has worked in Jackson on the project. Another part of the “clout” comes from consultant and lobbyist, Irb Benjamin, who began working for Yalobusha County in February.
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.
Benjamin will only be paid if legislators approve the bill and the county issues the necessary revenue bonds for the project. If the jail is constructed, Benjamin would work with county officials with hiring and training new employees and other aspects of getting the facility up and going.
The principal author of HB 988 was Representative Tommy Reynolds, who has also helped push the bill through the legislative process in Jackson.
Yalobusha supervisors began work on the jail project late last year, passing a resolution in favor of constructing a new regional jail that would house both state inmates and county prisioners.
The construction of the regional/county jail would come with an estimated price tag of $12 million – money that would be paid from revenue the facility would generate.
The state pays just under $30 per day for each state prisoner housed in regional facilities, an amount that could generate an estimated $3 million-plus annually in the Yalobusha facility if it comes to fruition.
Also in the March 3 meeting, Yalobusha supervisors listened to a sales pitch from Southbuild Team, a Tennessee company. This company marks the third to make a sales call during a supervisor meeting.
Other items at the March 3 meeting included.
• Approved a request for travel for Justice Court Judges Steve Riley and Gary Tippett to attend seminar in April.
• Approved a request for travel from Amy McMinn to attend seminar in March.
• Voted to desiginate the second-floor jury room at the Coffeeville Courthouse as an alternate location for Justice Court. Judge Riley had suggested the location due to a conflict on March 11 when the big courtroom will be used in the primary election.
• Approved a request for Montgomery Wood Products to exceed the posted weight limit on County Road 71 in District 5 while hauling logs. Similar requests were approved in District One for Plum Creek, a logging company, to exceed the posted weight limits on County Roads 555, 226,61, 63, and 211. A third request was granted for Weyerhaeuser in District Two on roads 223 and 127.
• Entered executive session to discuss a personnel issue and a matter of litigation.
• Discussed paying $200 registration and $200 dues for minority supervisors Amos Sims and George Tillman to attend the minority supervisor conference. The matter was tabled.
• Appointed a committee to check a private road south of Water Valley for the possibility of taking over the road.