Assessing the needs of a growing community

Published 12:14 pm Thursday, December 6, 2018

hot debatable topic in Jessamine County right now, is funds needed for multiple projects or resources in the community, such as the Nicholasville Police Department that I wrote about last week, or the Nicholasville Fire Department, which I have also featured.

Another area t being closely looked at, examined and discussed is the need for a new jail to replace the current Jessamine County Detention Center.

Now, I have been attacked multiple times by those who have read my columns in the past where I have taken a stance on issues in the county.

Much like I have been told The Journal needs to voice its opinion on current issues in our columns, I have been told my opinion is also wrong.

I guess the truth is, most people only want to hear your opinion if they agree with it.

My support for these local organizations does not deminish the fact I believe there are many others around that also need support and help. Supporting local first responders and building needs in the community such as a suitable jail for inmates, as opposed to a detention center which has been threatened to be shut down by the department of corrections, does not mean I don’t also support Jessamine County Schools or many local non-profits.

I have been inside the current detention center. Have you?

Sitting in the fiscal court meeting last Friday, I was surprised to see once again the jail project was pushed out for another few weeks after magistrates voted to have the jail committee take another look at the new bid numbers.

The first thing that came to mind, was the fact the new bid was brought to the table actually lower than what was originally estimated.

I am no expert, but when someone is able to lower expenses I would think that would be met with an overall passing vote.

I could see the point in making the jail committee review the new bid if the project came in over budget to see where additional funds would be taken from, but under budget does not seem like a good use of the jail committee’s time.

Then, to hear Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goetll speak on the topic of the current detention center already at risk of closure because of its conditions, which has only been extended because of the promise from the county to build a new facility, well the decision to me seems like it should be a no brainer.

As was discussed in the meeting, funds will need to be raised from somewhere. As is the case with all projects taken on by the city or county. For example, the new fire station, hopeful pay increases for first responders that are long over due and a new jail to house a growing community — which, in fact, does have a crime and drug problem regardless of if the residents want to face the reality. These projects are just as important as a quality education in the county and/or supporting non-profits.

It is the job of this county’s officials to not overlook the need to support those who risk their lives, serve and protect and spend their days housing and keeping criminals off the streets to keep the community safe.

I support all first responders and a new facility which would help not only keep criminals off the streets, but those serving the community a chance at doing their job to its full potential.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, I have seen the citation’s released for arrests weekly. Many criminals are booked and released only a short amount of time later only to be arrested again later that day. All of which could be avoided if there was space to keep them locked up.

When you stop and even consider that one fact, why wouldn’t you want to build a new facility to keep them off the streets and away from yourself, your family or your neighbor?

When fiscal court meets later this month to make a decision on the new jail project, it is my hope the magistrates do not take this decision lightly. If the court votes not to approve the project, they need to take into consideration the additional costs needed to run the current detention center in comparison to the jail project over a period of years before such a project is passed, such as the need for repairs, which Jessamine County Jailer Jon Sallee has told me will roughly cost the county $2 million to $3 million. I am sure the center will grow to need more than that in time.

Also consider the growing need to transport 80 to 90 inmates a day to other facilities because of the current detention center’s issue with overcrowding. They need to not only consider that number this year, but for all future years they will decide to not move forward with the need the community currently has which is a new jail. 

Though perhaps not welcomed by all, I support the need for a new jail and hope after the committee is done with its review, the numbers will be presented to the current fiscal court and the magistrates will move forward with a decision that suits all involved.

Brittany Fuller is the community editor of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. She can be reached at brittany.fuller@jessaminejournal.com.