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Jail Topic Creates More Questions Than Answers

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – There were more questions than answers concerning the construction of a new county jail in the “first Monday” Board of Supervisor meeting.
    But county officials plan to work through these questions – primarily the cost of infrastructure at both a potential site in Water Valley and Coffeeville, and the size and type of a new jail – and revisit the issue again during a recessed meeting scheduled Nov. 20.
    The issue surfaced Monday after North Central Planning and Development District director Steve Russell outlined a potential ARC grant that could cover up to 80 percent of the cost to run sewage to the jail site outside Water Valley on County Road 436.
    If the grant is awarded, Board President  Tommy Vaughn explained  Monday that the county  would incur approximately $50,000 to match the grant for the $250,000 project.
    Both sewage and water have been identified as obstacles in building the jail on the property on County Road 436 donated by Carother’s Construction, now called the Yalobusha County Complex.
    Last month the Herald reported Jeff Davis Water Association agreed to provide water for the new jail.
    Following the figures for  the Water Valley site,  District 5 Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman requested county engineer Carl Grubb provide similar figures for a site in the Coffeeville Industrial Park.
    Grubb said the cost of sewage in Coffeeville would be half of the Water Valley site, around $125,000.
    Grubb said the Coffeeville site has a 10-inch water line on site that would provide  adequate water pressure and  fire protection. Grubb also estimated it would cost $250,000  to build an access road that is two-tenths of a mile long.
    Grubb acknowledged the road could be built much cheaper, but said the ARC grant could be used to run the sewage to the Coffeeville site and build the road.
 Grubb said the sewage could cost $126,000 in Coffeevillle if a lift station is required.
Opening A Can Of Worms
    Tillman’s request on comparing infrastructure costs triggered discussion on a lingering issue about the jail – to building in Water Valley or Coffeeville.
    “I thought we made this decision a long time ago,” Vaughn said, referring to building the jail on the Yalobusha County Complex outside Water Valley.
    “No, let me get this clear. We hired Carl (Grubb) to check on the sewage and water of the (Water Valley) site. Now Carl has done a study on the Coffeeville site,” Tillman countered. “Now we need to decide on the site,” Tillman added.
    “Absolutely, we got to decide whether we are going to put it out there on the highway or in the soybean field,” Vaughn said.
    “Another thing, the Coffeeville site is not in the flood zone,” Tillman said.
    “If y’all don’t know where to put it, we need to vote on it,” Vaughn said, then motioning to put it in Water Valley where it would be adjacent to the current sheriff’s department.
    The motion would later be rescinded as additional questions kept coming in a discussion that became heated at times.
    Among questions that surfaced during the discussion include:
    • Feeding the inmates, whether to utilize an on-site cafeteria or outsource it;
    • The number of state inmates that will be housed in the new facility;
    • Whether the new jail will be constructed utilizing the traditional brick and mortar style or a dome-type that is cheaper.    
    • The size and cost per square foot to build a new sheriff’s department in Coffeeville if deemed necessary to  keep from having the sheriff’s department in one town and the jail in another town.
    • The increased cost in the sheriff’s budget to operate the new larger jail versus the current jail.

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