Chambers County detention center to add extension

Published 6:30 am Thursday, September 17, 2020

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LaFAYETTE — There will be a ribbon cutting at the new addition to the Chambers County detention center at 1 p.m. CDT (2 Eastern) on Tuesday, Sept. 22. It’s the first major expansion of the jail since 1991 and lessens the likelihood of a federal judge telling the county it has to do something more far-reaching and much more expensive.

“A total of 120 inmates can be housed there,” said Chambers County Attorney Skip McCoy. “What we now have can hold up to 135. The new portion is divided into three 40-bed sections.”

That type of separation will allow jailers more options in keeping someone who’s there for shoplifting away from someone who is in for assault and so on. That’s especially true for female inmates. Twenty-five years ago, it was rare to have a woman there accused of murder; it’s not that unusual these days to have a host of women being held for violent crimes.

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“Tommy Sims and Mike Parrish have been doing great work in managing the jail,” McCoy said. “Compared to other counties, they have done a great job in keeping COVID-19 out of the jail. Our numbers have been relatively small compared to other counties.”

The announcement of a ribbon cutting was made at the Monday meeting of the Chambers County Commission. In action taken at the meeting, approval was given to a grant from the Alabama Department of Youth Services. This grant in the amount of $156,000 is an annual program that assists District Court Judge Calvin Milford in funding diversion programs where first-time youthful offenders can be placed in job training programs. Jetta Wood works with the Alabama Department of Corrections in allowing some of the county’s youthful offenders to be placed in alternative programs rather than being incarcerated. They can then receive an income that can provide them basic necessities such as housing and meals.

The Department of Corrections also provides funding for youthful offenders from Chambers County to be housed in the Lee County youth corrections facility. For the most part, it’s a holding facility until they can be transferred to the state’s Department of Youth Services.

Chambers County Chief Deputy Richard Carter asked for and received permission from the commission to execute an annual traffic enforcement agreement with the East Alabama Highway Safety Office, Opelika, to be included in a grant program funded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to promote highway safety.

The commission approved a request from County Engineer Josh Harvill to expedite the relocation of a City of Lanett natural gas line on Phillips Road. It’s a reciprocity agreement between the county and city.

A grant will cover the cost of moving the line so the road can be widened. The Phillips Road project will widen the road near the intersection of Huguley Road not far from Huguley Elementary School. The installation of turn lanes should reduce traffic delays in the mornings when children are being taken to school and in the afternoons when they are being picked up.

Commissioner Sam Bradford urged any Chambers County resident who has not filled out their Census form to do so and to return it. Counting for the 2020 Census will end on Sept. 30.

Alabama has a dire need for the best Census it can have, but the state is falling short of that. The state could lose a member of Congress and get less federal funding over the next 10 years than it would have received with a good count.

As of Wednesday, Alabama is at 62.5 percent statewide Census participation. Chambers County is at 57.9 percent. Valley is above the county average, sitting at 59.9 percent. Lanett is at 56 percent, while Cusseta is at 56.2 percent. LaFayette is at 50.5 percent.