MHP office at new county jail facility?

Published 8:04 pm Saturday, August 4, 2018

Warren County officials continue to move forward in their quest to purchase property on U.S. 80 to build a new jail on the former Pinewoods Hotel property and there could be more county services located at the new facility.

County attorney Blake Teller gave the Warren County Board of Supervisors a brief update during a recent work session, indicating the sellers are close to making the final arrangements for the county to purchase the 47-acre site.

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On Monday, Teller is expected during the supervisors regular meeting to present bid proposals to have a professional environmental study of the proposed property being purchased.

In June, the county voted unanimously to buy the property for $400,000, which is $29,000 more than the appraised value.

The 47-acre site, which has not been a popular choice with some residents in the area, was targeted as a potential jail location once it became clear the first choice location at the Ceres Industrial Complex was not favorable to local and state economic development and city officials.

When asked during a recent work session about progress on the relocation of the Mississippi Highway Patrol facility on Grove Street, board president Richard George said county officials are looking at the driver’s license bureau being added to the new jail facility.

“There’s a thought among board members that since we’re buying such an expansive piece of property, why we would not consider the alignment of that development to involve that facility where we would be in control,” George said. “It would be in the proper territory, zoned and free of any concern.”

The board had targeted the vacant Lauderdale State Farm insurance building on the corner of Belmont and Drummond streets, but parents, as well as Youth Court Judge John Price, voiced their concerns and opposition to the proposed location because of two established daycare centers in the vicinity. An online petition, as well as a large contingent who appeared before the supervisors in May, believed there is a risk and danger of registered sex offenders, who are required by law to report every 90 days to the MHP facility to maintain their registered status.

The supervisors will meet Monday at 9 a.m. in their boardroom on the third floor of the Warren County Courthouse.