County,consultant to talk about jail Thursday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 13, 2009

Talks are set for Thursday between the committee of Warren County officials and the professional consultant studying the size and scope of a new jail in Warren County.

A five-member group has been meeting with Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services Inc. for nearly a year, with a final report due in March.

All local judges in the circuit and chancery court systems are expected to attend the 4 p.m. meeting in supervisors’ board room on the third floor of Warren County Courthouse. Invitations have been extended to Mayor Paul Winfield and Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, District 1 Supervisor David McDonald said.

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Committee members are McDonald, County Administrator John Smith, Sheriff Martin Pace, Undersheriff Jeff Riggs and Purchasing Agent Tonga Vinson. Early indications point to a 130,000-square-foot facility with an expandable 350-bed capacity, officials have said. Expected to be discussed Thursdaywill be additional courtroom space inside a new jail for cases on all levels, plus extra office and visiting space.

Staffing models discussed so far by committee members would triple the number of employees working in the jail to 63 after the first year from the 20 currently assigned to the century-old jail at Cherry and Grove streets. An extra $1 million would be necessary to pay the augmented staff, likely through a tax rate hike.

A bond issue to finance the construction is also possible as the process moves. Members have said construction costs have been pegged at $26 million — before such construction variables as economic conditions and geotechnical issues likely to push the price much higher kick in.

Location is expected to be the next step in the study. Sites have not been vetted as part of the study to date, officials have said.

Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at