By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – When the legislative session kicks off in January in Jackson, Yalobusha County supervisors will again seek help from legislators to build a new jail.
This time, their request is different, after supervisors passed a resolution last month asking for a local and private bill to allow the prospective new jail to be located outside the county seat.
The resolution was passed during a recessed meeting held Nov. 18 in Coffeeville and was described as a formality during the meeting.
“This is just one more step to take to make sure we got all of our i’s dotted,” District Two Supervisor Tommy Vaughn explained.
The board voted to pass the resolution after Circuit Clerk Amy McMinn reported that she had talked with representatives Tommy Reynolds and Dr. Sidney Bondurant and Senator Gray Tollison about the issue.
“Their recommendation was to go ahead and issue a resolution to them to ask for local and private legislation concerning locating a jail outside the county seat,” McMinn explained.
The request comes as supervisors have expressed interest in building a new jail on property located at former Carothers building two miles south of Water Valley. The location is outside of the city limits of Water Valley.
If a local and private bill is passed by state legislators, it would only give supervisors a green light to build the jail outside the city limits of the county seat. The bill is not connected to the funding of the new jail, which is estimated to have a $2.5 million price tag.
Replacing the 40-plus year-old jail has been an ongoing topic at board meetings, dating back to December, 2007, when supervisors met with Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.
At that time, supervisors passed a resolution approving the county as a site for a regional jail, housing an estimated 300 state prisoners and 90 county prisoners. The county hired a consultant in early 2008, and lobbied state legislators to approve the county for the facility.
Legislation was nixed in the final days of the 2008 session, and Yalobusha and 14 other Mississippi counties also vying for a regional jail came up short. A similar bill in the 2009 session was even less successful, as legislators faced funding shortfalls after the state and nation was engulfed in a recession.
The regional jail would have generated an estimated $3 million in the county, based on a daily payment for each inmate housed, an amount that would have offset the expense of building a new jail.
The next plan, presented by Sheriff William “Lance” Humphreys to supervisors in July was a scaled-down version of a regional jail that would house 25 state inmates and 56 county inmates as a viable alternative to replace the current 1964 model jail.
Humphreys’ presentation outlined a plan to construct a new jail that would utilize an annual payment from the Mississippi Department of Corrections for housing 25 state inmates, plus the existing money already budgeted to operate the current jail to construct a new facility.
Other business discussed at the Nov. 18 meeting included:
• Approved an application from Dennis Dorris to exceed the posted weight limit while logging on County Road 71 in District Five. A similar application was approved from Abbeville Forest Products while logging on county roads 87 and 212.
• Approved a solid waste assistance grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in the amount of $7,664. The money will be used to pay a local solid waste enforcement officer.
• Renewed the MDEQ permit for the Yalobusha County Class I rubbish site. The permit, which runs from October 30, 2009, through December 31, 2016. The permit was spread on the board minutes.
• Approved an application from James E. Jones, doing business as Janie’s Country Store, to sell beer and light wine. The business is located in Tillatoba.