City officials want more info from supervisors on proposed jail site

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, October 14, 2017

City officials said they want more information from the Warren County Board of Supervisors about the proposed county jail site before taking a position on the project.

The supervisors Oct. 2 unanimously voted to hire Greg Thomas to assess the value of a 50-acre tract located off Berryman Road near Dusty Road that is the favored of two sites to build the new jail.

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The site off Berryman Road was one of two finalist presented to the board by the representatives from Stantec. The other site is a 47-acre property located off U.S. 80 and near the site of the former Pinewoods Motor Court.

The Berryman Road site is favored because it is closest to city water and sewer services and the city’s new fire station, Independence No. 3, at the corner of Berryman Road and Maxwell Drive.

The supervisors’ top choice immediately fell under fire from the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

An Oct. 5 letter signed jointly by VCVB executive director Bill Seratt and VCVB board chairman Bess Averett raised concerns that the jail would adversely affect the area along East Clay Street, which they said is currently one of the city’s highest traffic areas for visitors staying overnight at hotels in the area, eating in the restaurants and shopping. 

According to information provided by the VCVB, at least 15.5 percent of hospitality revenue collected in the city comes from the area around the outlet mall, which includes 12 percent of the city’s restaurants.

The VCVB apparently is not the only one complaining. Flaggs said he has been receiving telephone calls from residents upset over the jail’s possible location.

“I’m not taking any position on the jail,” Flaggs said. “It is clear by (state) law that it should be in the city. And if it is built in the city, I think it is up to the supervisors to build it.”

Flaggs said the Berryman Road site has about 12 acres in the city.

“Having said that, I’m going to reserve my comments until an official request is made by the Board of Supervisors,” he said.

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said he wanted to get more information on the site.

“I haven’t talked with any of the supervisors, which I do intend to,” he said, adding he earlier inspected the site before as a possible site for the proposed sports complex.

“I know that site; I’ve been out there three, four times,” he said. “Proximity-wise, I have no doubt that it’s a good site where utilities are concerned.”

“I’m hearing a lot of negative feedback,” South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said. “I’m really interested to see what their (the supervisors) final outcome is. I’m taking it all in. I’m kind of like the mayor is at this point; I’m waiting on the final outcome is on it and we’ll take it from there.

“There’s people not happy with it, so I think what we need to do is see what their final pick is and go run with that at that time. In the end, the taxpayers are going to tell us what to do.”

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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