Landowners bring possible sites for new county jail

Published 8:11 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Three landowners have approached the Warren County Board of Supervisors with potential properties for the new county jail, board president Richard George said.

George told the supervisors Monday he was approached by the property owners last week about the sites, two of which are on U.S. 61 North in the vicinity of Merit Health River Region. The other is on Old Highway 27 near Oak Park Subdivision. He declined to identify the owners.

“We’ve not talked very extensively about it with the property owners,” he said. “They just offered something. Whether they’re interested, we don’t know. Really, right now, it’s preliminary.”

He said the property owners called him after reading about the board’s search for a jail site in The Vicksburg Post.

“I don’t know how much promise they (the sites) have, but we’re honoring their requests to review the property and see if they may be suitable,” he said.

George said the board is looking for about 50 to 60 acres to accommodate the new jail with room for future growth. One of the properties on U.S. 61 North is 134 acres, and the other is 60. The property off Old Highway 27 is 50 acres. He said the 50-acre site might not be unsuitable because it is too close to a subdivision.

“There are some places where a jail belongs and some places where it doesn’t,” he said.

District 1 Supervisor John Arnold suggested the board look at the Whispering Woods Apartment complex off U.S. 61. The property, which has been condemned by the city, is up for sale for $1.2 million on a real estate website called LoopNet.com.

According to county tax records, the apartment complex sits on six acres. George said the entire property totals 34 to 35 acres, while the website listing puts the total acreage at 35.

George said the main issue involving all three tracts, and the potential sites the board is already considering, is whether any of them are useable.

“The key to our need is when you buy property, you need to be able to use the majority of it without spending a fortune (to develop),” George said. “In our frame of Warren County, that becomes an immediate topic of concern.”

George said the county is reviewing a number of sites and taking into consideration cost of the land, cost to development, access to utilities and more. The supervisors have been looking at potential sites, and in early June approved a resolution to borrow $1.2 million to purchase a site.

“That’s quite a bit of thought we have to put into this and working with the sheriff and his ideas as to what we need or don’t need and what we should do,” George said.

A new jail for the county has been the topic of discussion by the board for many years.

At a meeting of the supervisors and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, George said he hoped the county would be able to begin construction of a new jail by 2019.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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