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County to borrow money for jail land

The Warren County Board of Supervisors took the first step Monday toward purchasing land on which to locate a new jail.

Supervisors approved a resolution to begin the process for borrowing up to $1.2 million to purchase property for a new jail.

“We had about 14 or 16 sites that were offered for consideration by different landowners,” said Richard George, president of the county’s board of supervisors.

“Although we have an immediate need for 12 to 15 acres, a couple of larger tracts offered in good locations could serve for other governmental purposes well into the future.”

George said it’s premature to identify the location of those potential larger sites.

“We would like to think it would be smart to plan well down the road, simply because of the location of some of these tracts of land,” he said. “Even though we don’t need the entire piece of property currently, we think it would be a good idea to to secure one while available to have it at our disposal for the next 30 or 40 years.”

These larger tracts of land are more expensive, but are much closer to the remainder of the county’s operations and are attractive to the county for several reasons, George said.

“We wanted to secure enough money to be in a position to make a viable, meaningful offer and be prepared not only to purchase a site, but be in a position to have the site prepared for construction,” he said. “We are not in a position to identify these properties publicly. We must determine if we can afford them. And if we can, we will make the decision to pursue it to an end. I don’t think it will be too lengthy a process. It won’t take too long to get from where we are now to where we need to be.”

After securing land for a new jail, the next step in the process will be for county officials to work closely with Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace and his staff to determine the needs and best designs for a new jail facility.

“I would suspect in his dealings across the state, there are some facilities that are attractive to him (Pace) and would be a replica of what he would like to have,” George said. “Who designed that jail and that sort of thing would be something interest to us, someone who has been down that trail would be more prepared to meet our needs than others. That would be the next step.

“I would think our thrust in this project is to put Warren County, and the city of Vicksburg for that matter, in a position, as far as a holding facility for our problems that will meet our needs for many, many, many years. And that should be settling, because as serious an undertaking as it is, it must be prepared and done in a fashion to service for many years, as the facility we have now has,” George said.

In a separate vote, supervisors approved a resolution Monday that leads the way to borrowing $1.4 million for a variety of repairs and equipment purchases at county facilities. John Smith, county administrator, said the $1.4 million, which will be financed with five-year notes, will be used to construct a new, raised metal roof on the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library, purchase a new chiller for the library, upgrade elevators at the county courthouse, library and the jail, upgrade the handicap ramps and bathrooms for the parks and recreation pavilion and cover the county’s share of the cost to fix the erosion problem at Riverfront Park.

County attorney Blake Teller said financing bids from banks on the five-year notes are due at the June 26 supervisor’s meeting and will be opened at 10 a.m.