WEATHER DELAYS START ON JAIL

CATEGORY: SUP Lee Board of SupervisorsMOULDE

WEATHER DELAYS START ON JAIL

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Bad weather has delayed the start of construction on the new Lee County Jail, county supervisors were told Monday.

“It’s been either too cold or too wet,” County Administrator Ronnie Bell said. “Because of the weather … they’ve done no work on the site.”

County officials, facing a federal court deadline for completing the jail, had hoped work on the facility would begin in December. A $5.3 million construction contract was let to Carothers Construction Co. of Water Valley in mid-December. Total project costs are estimated at $6.1 million.

Board attorney Bill Beasley said the U.S. Justice Department, a party in a federal lawsuit that led to the consent order to build the jail, has agreed to extend the completion deadline another 30 days. It’s the second such extension granted by the federal agency.

Originally, the jail was to be completed by March 31, 1997, with occupancy to occur in mid-May that year.

Beasley said the extension still has to be cleared with the attorney for a group of current or former inmates who sued the county over alleged constitutional violations associated with conditions at the present jail.

In other action, the board also gave final approval to the South Lee Volunteer Fire Protection District and tentative approval to the Union Volunteer Fire Protection District.

The South Lee district covers the southwest corner of the county while the Union district will cover the southeast corner, plus a section extending north of Plantersville. Supervisors also filled the South Lee district’s five-member board of trustees.

Final approval of the Union district can’t come for 30 days, giving any opponents a chance to produce a petition demanding a vote on the proposal. Organizers said they have heard of no opposition to the district.

“Everybody is real enthused, real interested in it,” county Fire Coordinator Ray Keith said.

The board also approved an $18,269 base bid by Frankie Blackmon Chevrolet for new pickups, although officials haven’t determined just how many trucks the county will buy. Supervisors also adopted a four-year road plan, a procedure they must undertake annually.

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