The goal is to move nonviolent inmates who haven’t yet been to trial from the overcrowded county jail to their homes.
No discussion by the full commission preceded the vote, and no one spoke on the issue during public comment.
Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable is talking with county commissioners to gauge interest in a group trip to two county jails in Georgia. The goal would be to view different types of cells as potential design options for jail construction in Sullivan County.
Overcrowding at the county’s jail facilities could be eased by releasing between 91 and 300 inmates awaiting trial, but move would require five to 15 new deputies for the sheriff’s office.
BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County taxpayers could be footing the bill for anywhere from $69.3 million to $168.4 million for new and/or renovated jail facilities. And that’s in today’s dollars. With an estimated completion time of three years out, or more, the estimated cost could rise by the time construction takes place.
Construction of three new Sullivan County Emergency Medical Services stations will reduce response times, EMS Director Gary Mayes said. Two of the three replace existing locations — which the county leases.
School system director says “Pep Rally” poem in “Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems” is not one of three poems in book teachers are to use in the classroom.
The nominating process, as well as the voting procedure, was in marked contrast to a commission meeting last month when a group of commissioners led a divisive coup attempt against Venable — while he was at home resting prior to surgery the next morning.
A potential compromise was suggested as commissioners discussed the issue Thursday: hold their work session in the evening and return monthly business meeting to a morning start time. Proponents said that would offer public participation to both those who work during the day and those who find it a challenge to attend at night.
A resolution requests judicial officials to “work together and develop a plan or plans recommending methods and identifying their expected effectiveness to reduce the inmate population .... in the short term."
The compromise adds $800,000 to the county school system’s budget — but as contingency funding only to be used if two criteria are met: the school system sees an actual drop in average daily attendance of more than 1 percent and the school system’s local tax revenues really come in as low as the school system projected in its budget.
“A year ago the citizens asked for change,” Sullivan County Commissioner Alicia Starnes said. “The time is here to change things.”
The projected cost of expanding and renovating current Sullivan County jail facilities is nearly $85 million, according to a presentation to the Sullivan County Commission on Thursday by the consulting firm hired earlier this year.
The firm hired to develop a plan to address the longtime overcrowding issue at the jail is set to reveal multiple options during three presentations for county officials Thursday morning — followed by a presentation Thursday night to the full Sullivan County Commission, which is open to the public.
Deputy Brandon Poff, 30, was on duty at the time his cruiser struck a car on Stone Drive. He has since been reassigned as a school resource officer.