Supervisors give up on Ceres; set sights on Pinewoods property

Published 7:00 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

The Warren County Board of Supervisors have settled on a site for the new county jail they believe will meet the approval of all involved.

During their regular meeting Monday, the supervisors voted for board attorney Blake Teller to discuss with city of Vicksburg officials and the local legislative delegation property located at the old Pinewoods Hotel on Highway 80 as the location for the jail. If all are in favor, the county will hire Ronnie Johnston as an appraiser for the site.

Supervisor Charles Selmon is part of a delegation from Warren County in Washington D.C. and was absent from Monday’s meeting, but the motion passed unanimously.

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By state law, the board of supervisors is required to seek an inter-local agreement with city officials and the legislature to build the county jail if it is a mile outside the city limits. The Pinewoods Hotel site is actually less than a mile – 3,580 feet – outside the city limits so the supervisors may not need such an agreement, but the board authorized Teller to check the legality.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen is expected to be in favor of the proposed site and take up the matter during their meeting Friday if an inter-local agreement is necessary.

In December of last year, the supervisors voted to construct the county jail in the Ceres Industrial Park, which was met with opposition from county and state economic development officials, which in turn caused city officials to not agree with the location due to the potential hindrance it could have on economic development.

Prior to voting to put the county jail at the industrial park, the 47-acre Pinewoods Hotel was one of two sites Stantec recommended to the board in the fall of last year. The board chose a site on Berryman Road in October because of its location to city utilities, but tourism officials, business leaders, residents and economic development officials were not in favor of the location.

Site clearing and infrastructure upgrades would be necessary for the Pinewoods Hotel site. Supervisors were informed in October it would cost approximately $200,000 for 5,000-feet of sewer lines to tie into the city system, as well as improvements to lift stations.

Board President Richard George said, “no site is perfect, but (Pinewoods Hotel) site does offer quite a lot” for the needs of a jail in Warren County.

George also wanted to make it clear that Warren County, and not the city, will fund the construction of the county jail.

The supervisors are expected to vote on the jail site during their next scheduled meeting March 19.