December 10, 2008 Edition

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JPs discuss need
for bigger jail

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

Lawrence County Quorum Court members discussed the expanding jail needs in the county Monday night.

"We are constantly running over capacity. We have no room for juveniles or facilities for the mentally handicapped," Sheriff Dan Ellison said. "We have an average of 35 to 45 prisoners daily. I have 17 waiting right now to go to prison."

Several ideas are being considered.

There is the possibility of expanding present facilities to include up to 15 more beds without constructing a new building, but that still might not be sufficient. In addition no existing structures within the county meet prison codes to create a larger jail.

Another suggestion was to build a new 'mini-prison' that would house up to 300 prisoners and serve four counties on county-owned land located in Black Rock. This suggestion would need the cooperation of all four counties to be put in effect.

"We are presenting this idea tonight so everyone can start considering how we can best fill this need," said Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham.

Farrah Matthews presented a five-year reappraisal plan to the court. The reappraisal plan allows for each parcel of real estate in the county to be appraised by Lawrence County appraisers.

New values are not to be charged until 2013. Matthews informed the council that it was decided that the county's reappraisal managers will continue to be Delta Mass Services Appraisal, Inc., located in England, Ark.

It was also reported that the recent auction held by the sheriff's department raised $9,013. This money will be combined with an expected $13,000 grant to purchase a truck. The truck will be used to pull a new trailer designed to assist in disaster control.

The road department also raised $585 in the auction.

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