Flaggs forms jail planning committee

Published 6:18 pm Monday, November 13, 2017

The site for a new Warren County jail took another turn Monday when Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr., announced he has appointed a committee “to look at the construction, design and operation of a jail/holding facility inside the city or outside the county seat of Warren County.”

According to a press release from Flaggs’ office, the committee will consist of Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore, who will also serve as chairman; Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk; City Attorney Nancy Thomas; City Accountant Doug Whittington; and Municipal Court Judge Toni Terrett.

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Flaggs said this committee will conduct a feasibility study “of the cost and operational use of a jail/holding facility inside and outside the county seat of Warren County” and assist in the drafting of any legislation that is required by law for this project. Once complete, the committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Flaggs said the committee will “work with the Warren County Board of Supervisors to facilitate a compromised use of such a facility.”

“The construction of a new jail for Vicksburg and Warren County is critical for the future of the city,” Flaggs said.

For a decade, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has been working to find a suitable location for a new jail facility and recently narrowed it down to two locations just outside the city limits of Vicksburg.

Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George said the construction of a county jail is the responsibility of the county.

“That’s the law,” George said. “The city has every right to build their own facility if they want to, but we are the only one’s responsible for building a county jail.”

During their work session Monday morning, the Board of Supervisors discussed in general the topic of the new jail and could be nearing a decision on an up or down vote on the location.

In their October meeting, the Supervisors hired Greg Thomas to assess the value of a 50-acre tract located off Old Highway 27 between Miss. 27 and Berryman Road. This location has been met with resistance from the business community and neighbors in the area who fear potential safety and property value issues.

In September, the supervisors heard from Stantec’s Brian Robbins and John McKee about the two proposed properties for the new jail, which they previously said they hoped to have completed by 2019.

The second site was a 47-acre property known as the Pine Woods property, which is located off U.S. 80 and near the site of the former Pine Woods Hotel.

During the Sept. 25 work session, McKee said he recommended the Berryman Road site as it would be easier to build on and require considerably less work to run a sewer system to the site.

The Pine Wood site would require approximately 5,000 feet of sewer in order to tie into the city sewage city costing $200,000 and require upgrades to the pumping station. There are also several structures that would have to be demolished at the site and mobile homes that would have to be moved.

The Berryman Road property would require only 1,300 feet of sewage piping and be able to tie in near the YMCA costing $155,000.

A third site that could be a possibility for the new jail is on Armory Road at the industrial park. George said there is a tract of land “with ample space for a jail.”

“There’s no other development in that immediate area of the industrial park,” George said. “Utilities are already in place, sewer, water, gas and power.”

George said the jail that is going to replace the 110-year old facility must last at least as long.

“We should be considering building for the future,” George said. “That site handles today and on into the future. I don’t see what is so difficult about it.”