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State prisoners seen as income for county jail

Twenty state prisoners and possibly some federal inmates shouldsoon be on their way to the new jail facility to work and provideservices to the county and sheriff’s department, Sheriff Lynn Boytetold supervisors Tuesday.

Boyte said the jail has been approved to house 20 state inmates,and an application to house 10 federal inmates has been submitted.The state pays $20 a day per inmate and the federal reimbursementrate is up to $35 a day, which could help offset the costs of thenew jail, the sheriff said.

“We need something for them to do when they come here,” Boytesaid.

A county road clean-up crew could take about eight or 10, andBoyte said supervisors should let him know if they need inmates tohelp with beat work.

“I think it’d be a good thing,” said District 1 Supervisor CliffGivens.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson agreed.

“It’d sure help us out there,” he said.

County officials said inmates could be used for vehiclemaintenance, clipping grass along roads and other needs.

“Out of 20,000 people up there who’ve messed up, some of themhave got some skills you can use,” Boyte said.

For each day an inmate works, he earns one day off his sentence,the sheriff said.

Boyte said the county would only take inmates who have “theirheads on straight.” He said there would be strict screening ofpotential inmates for the county work program.

Another benefit of housing state and federal inmates, thesheriff mentioned, is possibly helping to pay for the new $3.4million jail facility.

County costs involved with housing inmates amount to about $6 aday for meals. The sheriff estimated the county could make $146,000a year for housing state inmates and $100,000 a year for housingfederal inmates.

WATER PROJECT PLANS

Also Tuesday, Wirt Peterson, director of the SouthwestMississippi Planning and Development District, talked tosupervisors about how to proceed with a $500,000 grant applicationto build a water well and storage tank on Highway 84. With thecounty’s help, the project is part of an overall $3 million waterand sewer improvement project being pursued by the city to supplyservices to a new national armory, highway patrol substation and anew industry north of town.

Peterson said the traditional Community Development Block Grantroute to benefit low to moderate income residents had beenrejected. However, he said state officials were interested in theproject and it could possibly be funded through a grant for “urbanrenewal — slums and blight” areas.

Supervisors would have to designate an area for urban renewaland there would have to be a public hearing, Peterson said. Theboard approved Peterson discussing grant application plans with thestate before pursuing the matter further.

“I don’t think it’s in your best interest or our best interestif we don’t get clear go-ahead,” Peterson said.

Board President W.D. “Doug” Moak questioned what blight aspectsthere are to the property. When discussing urban renewal, Petersonsaid there is a connotation of slums and blight, but that is notwhat it is.

“What we’re going to be talking about is general improvement ofthe area,” Peterson said.

Officials said the urban renewal designation could be removedwhen the project is completed. Peterson was expected to have adraft letter for supervisors’ review at their Monday meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, supervisors elected to take applications fora new 911 coordinator. The decision came following Evelyn Summers’resignation earlier this month and having her former duties dividedamong other county employees for the last few weeks.

“I do not think the way we’re doing it now is going to work,”said Tillmon Bishop, county administrator.

Summers, the coordinator for nine years, was at Tuesday’smeeting to lobby for having a full-time coordinator. She said thesystem was running smoothly and a full-time person was needed tokeep it going.

Bishop said it was possible the county could continue with thedivided duties, but employees may not be comfortable with thatsituation. He said the decision was in the best interests of theboard.

Also Tuesday, supervisors approved a resolution declaringLincoln County as a County of Character. City officials earlierthis year declared Brookhaven as a City of Character.

Through a variety of community organizations, officials andcitizens try to emphasize good values and character traits. Arepresentative from Boyte’s office has already spoken to severalcounty churches about the character program.

At the end of their meeting, supervisors went into executivesession for discussions on the purchase of real estate. The boardis in negotiations to secure right of way for road projects onDixon Trail and Jordan Drive.