Commissioners may form a jail committee

The Marion County Board Commis?sioners will go back to the drawing board following voter rejection of a one-cent sales tax increase to build a new $8.65 million jail.

?What I am hearing in my area,? said Bob Hein, commission chair, ?is to put together a jail committee.?

Hein said he believes there are good leaders in the county that could come up with a workable solution.

?Everyone I talk to seems to know we have to do something about the jail,? he said, ?but they just didn?t like the deal we had.?

Hein said most constituents told him the proposed jail was too big and too costly and the commissioners need to come up with a different number of beds and a different way to pay for it.

He said he envisions the jail committee being made up of people from communities across the county.

?We can get some good leaders and come up with something that might have a better chance of passing,? Hein said, ?whether using mill levy (property tax) or something else.?

In addition to the jail committee, Hein said the new sheriff, Rob Craft, has talked with him about a few ideas of his own.

?I think everyone knows our jail is in bad shape,? he said, ?and I think if we are working on a plan, the fire marshal will work with us (regarding jail deficiencies).?

Earlier this year, Hein said, the county spent more than $25,000 to update the jail so that prisoners could get out more quickly in case of a fire.

?It?s a tough job right now,? he said. ?The economy is bad, but we still have to come up with something to make the jail safer (to meet state and federal requirements).?

Hein believes that when local leaders get on board with a workable idea, the proposal will have a better chance of passing.

?We need to get everyone working together to solve this issue,? he said.

Hein does not think any major changes in jail personnel or other jail modifications will happen until the new sheriff takes office Monday, Jan. 12.

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