Ads for jail land, altering elections OK’d by county

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Changes to the way school board elections are held in Warren County and a public notice to find land for a jail were approved by supervisors Monday.

Board President Richard George was authorized to sign documents for each, both of which need approval from the Mississippi Legislature.

A public notice seeking proposals and prices on land to jump-start jail construction should clarify what’s out there for the county to purchase and satisfy some parameters mentioned in consultants’ 2010 study — 20 to 50 acres for a facility capable of housing at least 350 inmates the first year.

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“We’ll make it as specific as we can make it,” George said following Monday’s 4-0 vote, taken without District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, who is among 16 public officials and private sector interests in Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for federal dollars for local projects. McDonald represents the county board on a local justice system committee examining the jail and other legal system issues, and was supervisors’ liaison when a consulting firm was sought.

State law indicates property that a county purchases for vital infrastructure such as jails be located within a county seat. The law has been backed up by an advisory opinion from the attorney general.

However, bills have been signed into law the past two years allowing DeSoto, Yalobusha, Attala and Jefferson Davis counties to build jails regardless of municipal boundary lines.

Though no location has been specified, a public search for what’s available will determine whether supervisors need to ask local legislators to file a similar bill, George said.

Senate Bill 2504, which would push the qualifying deadline for election to the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees back a month, is before the House following a nearly unanimous Senate vote last week. Voting has been forced onto paper ballots the past two election cycles because electronic ballot cards arrived before the current filing deadline, usually in the first week in October for the biennial elections.

Support for the change from the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the school board are expected.