by John Mott Coffey, with News Mississippi affiliate WQNZ. Most Mississippi counties face similar financial constraints. This story is how Adams County is dealing with it.
NATCHEZ, Miss.–The Adams County Board of Supervisors is moving forward on a proposal for the sheriff’s administrative and investigative offices to be relocated and consolidated in rented space outside the county jail.
“This will at least give us a place to be located centrally so everybody is together,” said Sheriff Chuck Mayfield.
Adams County Sheriff’s Office administrators, investigators and narcotics officers are scattered in three offices at the Adams County Jail and two other buildings.
Mayfield said there’s an offer on the table for the sheriff’s office to rent the second floor of the building on Franklin and Wall streets that formerly housed Callon Oil Co. offices. The rent would be $4,000 a month.
“This would be centrally located close to the courthouse, close to the jail, so that we will be just a block (or two) away,” Mayfield said.
The Callon building’s first floor currently houses offices for lawyers, real-estate agents and The APEX Center, a business-development program co-sponsored by Alcorn State University.
County supervisors voted Monday to get board attorney Scott Slover to draft a lease agreement for them to review and approve.
ACSO investigators’ offices are in the Justice Court building by the county Courthouse. Metro Narcotics agents work in offices on Liberty Road near Monmouth.
The ACSO move would come as discussions continue on building a new county jail.
“Long term, we need to be focusing on a new facility down the road. The county will need to look at that,” said county board President Darryl Grennell.
With the 39-year-old jail having various structural problems in recent years, the Board of Supervisors and Mayfield have already had a study done for building a replacement. The estimated cost for constructing a new jail is nearly $7 million.
If the board did decide to build a new jail, Mayfield noted it would take a couple of years for it to be constructed.
“I’m not pushing for a new facility. I just let (county supervisors) know what the problems of the facility are, and they make that decision,” the sheriff said.
In other matters at the county board meeting Monday, supervisors voted to put a barricade at the end of Jones Road near U.S. 84 to keep people from driving off. The street’s dead-end has recently been cleared of trees and slopes down.
The board also met with Adams County Tax Collector Peter Burns to discuss pay raises for his five employees. The board closed its meeting to the public to discuss an employee’s job performance when Burns brought up financial discrepancies discovered in his office.
The board closed its meeting again later to discuss the sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center and an industrial prospect wanting to locate at the old International Paper mill site, which the county now owns.
After the meeting. Slover said the board asked him to draw up a lease with a company employing about 25 people to locate there. While the company remains anonymous until a final deal is made, Slover said it’s tied to drilling activities now going on in the area’s Tuscaloosa Marine Shale oil formation.
Concerning the county-owned NRMC, Slover said the board got an update on its pending sale to Community Health Systems. The bankrupt hospital needs more cash to pay its bills before CHS will take it, but Slover expressed confidence sufficient revenues will be available.
“It’s losing money and we’ve got to get enough cash to close out the sale,” Slover said.
It’s a problem, he said, that can be resolved with revenues generated by NRMC for patient care before CHS ownership but not actually received until after the sale.