Process to close jail moves forward
by James Phillips
Nov 21, 2012 | 1853 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chief Connie Rowe
Chief Connie Rowe
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Jasper City Council members moved the city one step closer to getting out of the jail business Tuesday when they voted to allow Mayor Sonny Posey to sign an agreement that would ultimately close the city’s jail facility.

Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe informed council members that a contract, which is approved by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, had been obtained. The contract would allow the city to house its inmates in the Walker County Jail.

“This is a blank contract,” Rowe said. “I would ask that you cap the contract at $32 per inmate, per day.”

Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey also addressed the council and said the rate is equal to what the Walker County Jail charges to hold a federal prisoner.

“We currently have contracts with smaller municipalities, such as Cordova, Oakman and Sipsey, and we hold some federal inmates. That rate was determined by a pretty extensive federal study,” Tirey said. “Chief Rowe and I have discussed this situation at length and this is something that we can handle.”

Tirey said the Walker County Commission will have to approve the deal.

“I have discussed this briefly with them,” he said. “I feel they are not opposed to the idea and are pretty well on board.”

Council members agreed to allow city attorney Russ Robertson to put together a one-year contract, which would include a 60-day out clause.

“I feel like we need an out if we do this and a month or so into it we decide this isn’t what we should do,” council member Gary Cowen said.

Rowe said she felt the move could save the city at least $100,000 per year.

“This is a ‘win-win’ situation for us,” she said.

The council also agreed to allow Posey to sign the contract. Robertson said the contract would be signed and ready for the commission to decide on the issue at its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.

In other action:

•Council members approved a parade permit for the Turkey Trot run on Thursday and the 7th annual Jingle Bell Run on Dec. 1.

•The council agreed to send bid invitations for vegetation management services for city rights of way.

•Council members conducted a public hearing and set costs on several nuisance abatement properties.

•Posey also took time during Tuesday’s meeting to proclaim Nov. 30 as Juvenile Myositis Day.

Two Jasper children, 4-year-old Desi Atkins and 11-year-old Brylee Smith, suffer from the rare disease that affects 3-in-1 million children. Posey said the proclamation is permanent and each year, the city will celebrate Juvenile Myositis Day on Nov. 30.

“I’m honored to be able to make this proclamation today,” Posey said.