Supervisors OK topography study of new jail site

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Warren County Board of Supervisors have taken another step in building a new county jail, authorizing county engineer Stantec to perform a topographical survey of the jail site on U.S. 80.

John McKee with Stantec said the survey will examine the elevations and dips in the property now that the buildings that once occupied the site have been removed.

“We knew we had to clear all the buildings and drain the pond and you couldn’t tell how deep the water (in the pond) was at all,” he said. “It’s just easier to come in and get that done and come in and do the topo.”

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The survey is one of the preliminary steps as the board continues preparations to build the replacement for the county’s present 112-year-old jail.

“We are tying to do as much preliminary work as we can do in order to be in the best position to put out proposals for an architect,” Board of Supervisors president Richard George said.”

He said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace has visited several jails for ideas.

“We’re trying to do all we can from both sides so they’ll (the architect) know the lay of the land and the sheriff will have provided some insight into the physical layout of the facility,” he said.

George said the board needs to know how the jail will be laid out before any dirt work is done. If any work is done, he said it would be clearing and grubbing to improve access on the site.

“We need to do some further work with the pond levee,” he said. “We went through a lot of trouble to dispose of the water; we don’t want to be collecting any. We have to get that done.”

The supervisors in June bought 47 acres on U.S. 80, where the former Pinewood Hotel once stood, for a new jail for $400,000. The buildings on the property have been demolished and removed and the pond on the property has been emptied.

The purchase ended a nearly yearlong process. The 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.

City and county officials eventually agreed on the inter-local agreement for the jail site that resulted in the purchase of the U.S. 80 property.

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

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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