After years of discussion, first big step taken toward construction of new county jail

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

After years of discussion, the site for a much-needed county jail facility was finally chosen in 2018.

It was a nearly year-long process as the Warren County Board of Supervisors initially decided on a site in the Ceres Industrial Complex in late 2017, but by January, other local and state officials had come out against that plan believing a jail facility at Ceres would hinder economic development.

By state law, the county has the authority to build a jail, but must have the approval of the county seat if it is located outside the city limits in order to get local and private legislation from the Mississippi Legislature.

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By March, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. — opposed to the idea of the jail at Ceres — offered to take $4.4 million the city had in a master plan for their own jail site and collaborate with the supervisors in building a jail facility.

A few days later, 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.

City and county officials eventually agreed on the inter-local agreement for the jail site and the supervisors purchased the 47-acre site to the dismay of a few residents in the area who made their displeasure known by spray-painting graffiti on buildings at the vacant Pinewoods Hotel, as well as appearing before the board during work sessions and regular meetings.

In June, the county purchased the property for $400,000, which is $29,000 more than the appraised value.

The 350-bed facility is expected to paid through a bond issue in the range of $18-20 million. Board of Supervisors President Richard George told a gathering of the monthly chamber of commerce luncheon in August the bond issue would be “sometime in 2020 or 2021.”

For several years, the county has been looking at building a new jail facility to house city and county inmates to replace the current 100-year-old jail.