Photo by Sue Watson
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson and jailer Royce Pegues are pictured on the site as dirt work is being done by the county road crews in advance of expansion of the jail.
County expanding justice complex
The Marshall County Justice Complex is outgrowing its space and more room is needed to house inmates, hold court and for administrative work, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
There is an increase in the number of crimes and more 911 calls are coming in, he said. The 911 center will remain in situ because of the cost that would be incurred to move cables. And the control tower will stay as is.
Dickerson said no new taxes will be levied for the expansion as the current jail bond will be used to support this project. The current facility, which opened in 1999, has been paid off.
“What we are trying to do is what we didn’t have the money to do at the time the jail was built,” he said.
The sheriff said new growth in the industrial park in the north portion of the county will produce revenues in the future to expand services such as the addition of staff, deputies, and a third constable and justice court judge. The existing new industries are required to pay taxes to support the schools, law enforcement and the fire departments while they may enjoy ad valorem tax exemptions on other real and personal taxes for up to 10 years from start-up.
Law enforcement and the justice court needs are inadequate to serve the current warrants on the books, he said.
Particularly there is a very large backlog of domestic violence and child support cases that cannot be prosecuted due to lack of staffing and jail space, he said.
The county has discussed adding a new constable and justice court judge position at the next election.
Gradually, new fire department services will be needed on the north end to support the growth at Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, as well as law enforcement services, Dickerson said.
The county is saving money by using its road crews to do the site preparation for the jail expansion and its engineer to help with the design and engineering.
“There is no point in financing that (dirt work) when you can do it in kind,” said county administrator Larry Hall.
Dean and Dean is the architectural firm that is working on the project.
Dickerson said it could take a couple of years to finish the construction once a general contractor has been hired.