The Jail Study Committee of the Hamblen County Commission moved ahead Monday night, approving the purchase of property close to the current justice center as part of construction of a new jail.
The Jail Study Committee voted 10-3 to pursue purchasing four properties across Alison Street. Commissioners Jeff Akers, Tim Goins and Wayne NeSmith voted no.
The purchase will now go before the full commission for approval.
The properties are the Gibbons property, Hodge property, Pleasantview Properties and the law offices of Wayne Stambaugh. County Mayor Bill Brittain told commissioners he was in the process of also negotiating with the Morristown and Emergency Rescue Squad on acquiring their properties.
He said the architects for the new jail construction had made the suggestion.
“They recommended we go across Alison Street to help with design,” he said.
Brittain updated the commission on the jail construction. Four months ago, the County Commission had approved going ahead with design for the jail. He said the first draft presented by the architects was at 180,000 square feet at a cost of more than $70 million and was too much.
Brittain said the architects then presented a second draft of a 140,000 square foot building, but that was too small. So now, the architects are drawing up plans for a 160,000 square foot building.
He also told the commission that the annex, which was part of the original plans for holding inmates, could only be certified for about 30 to 35 beds. It is currently holding almost 100 inmates. He said any plans to place more into the annex would require major renovations to the property.
Goins and NeSmith said they felt the current site the commission had approved next to the current justice center was inadequate and the jail should have been located at a different site.
Brittain, who has been handling the jail designs, along with Commissioner Scotty Long, said he knew what the commission wanted after hearing feedback the last two years.
“I ask that you have some confidence in me and Mr. Long,” he said.
The committee also voted 11-2 to move $1.5 million from reserves into a capital outlay note to help pay for the purchase of the properties and design fees. Akers and Goins voted no.
Hamblen County Chairman Howard Shipley told County Attorney Chris Capps to pursue obtaining a judge’s order to bar attorney Linda Noe from the county commission meetings.
“Mr. Attorney, I am asking you to initiate through a judge to have Ms. Noe removed from this body until she abides by the rules,” Shipley said.
Noe had been called down by Shipley for exceeding her five minutes during the citizens comments portion of the meeting.
Commissioner Tim Goins added that she was in violation of the commission’s rules by taping from the front row.
The commission made a rule three months ago that videotaping had to occur in the back of the courtroom and Noe has declined to abide by that rule.
Shipley gave the order for Capps to have her banned from the courtroom until she follows the rule.
Edna Greene, a former candidate for county commission, came to the podium and asked that her time be given to Noe.
“I’d like to know what she had to say,” Greene said.
Shipley told her the commission does not allow yielding time.
“Well I hope God helps you,” Greene said.
“He will,” Shipley replied.
The commission will next meet for its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 5 p.m. in the large courtroom of the Hamblen County Courthouse. The bulk study committee will also be meeting this Thursday at 5 p.m.