In March 12 IssueBy Greg Well
sTimes Journal Managing Editor
The members of the Russell County Fiscal Court voted to "build a jail."
County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner made that motion and Magistrate Ron Johnson seconded it. All except Magistrate Greg Popplewell voted for the motion.
Other than its location, near the senior citizens center, and that it is to be an 80-bed facility there were not other particulars in the motion.
Though the county leadership had been working with the plans from one architect they entertained a proposal from another architectural firm at the meeting Monday night.
The new architect, Mike Branstetter of Branstetter Carrol, made a half-hour plea to the county not to simply copy the Jackson County facility designed by the other firm.
"You need a Russell County Jail," said Branstetter, "Not the Jackson County Jail."
He and his team stressed that the biggest cost of a jail is not building it, but running it. They said designing a facility that will be efficient to operate and easy to add onto will be the most important considerations.
"I can guarantee you one thing," Branstetter said. "You will add onto this jail."
Though neither was quoting exact figures Harold Fletcher, who the county has been working with, quoted a new jail at $4.56 million while Bransetter estimated construction and fees would be about $3.8 million.
The court took no action on hiring an architect, or a construction manager, nor did they take action on the bids presented for excavation and grade work on the property where the jail is to be located.
An action that was proposed on a noise ordinance was inconsequential.
With a tying vote from the county judge-executive the noise ordinance drawn up by County Attorney Mark McGaha did not take effect.
The motion, made by Popplewell and seconded by Magistrate Gary Robinson was also voted for my Magistrate Steve Bledsoe. Voting in opposition were magistrates Johnson and Jimmy McQueary. Also voting in opposition was Garner.
Motions and votes are generally considered under Kentucky law to be the prevue of the magistrates on a fiscal court; however, the county attorney was present and made no comment on Garner's actions other than to declare the motion defeated by a tie.
Earlier in the meeting it had come to the attention of the court that the Russell County Rescue Squad was willing to offer a 12 year lease for construction of a Coroner's office on their property. A 50 or 100 year lease had been proposed by the magistrates previously.
As the meeting was drawing to a close Popplewell made a motion that the building to house the coroner's office and vehicles be located on the site where the county plans to build a new jail, at the end of Brial Walters Road off US-127 in south Russell Springs.
That motion passed. In other actions -
o The state proposed almost $1 million in road work within the county.
Caves Springs Road, Ky-76 and Ky-619 were the roads proposed for resurfacing.
o The amount awarded to county fire agencies was raised from $5,000 to $7,500 as previously agreed.
o Chris McQueary was re-appointed to the Russell County Hospital Board of Directors.
o The $5,000 in dues to the Russell County Industrial Authority was approved.
o The court approved $500 donation to the Catch-a-Rainbow program at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. Popplewell and Bledsoe voted in opposition.
o The donation to the Red Cross was set at half the previous year's allocation after Popplewell said the organization was "Funded very well."
However according to a television news story in last week, "Tough times have affected many but now even the nations largest emergency response organization-- The American Red Cross is asking for help. Nationally, the organization is struggling with its finances…"
The court gave $250 to support the group's life-saving programs in this county.
The court also agreed to a March 22nd meeting at 4 p.m. to consider the jail issues not decided on at this week's meeting.