The Kosciusko Board of Aldermen voted 3-1 to hold a rezoning hearing on a portion of residential land to be used for Attala County Jail on February 5 at the board’s 5:30 p.m. meeting.
The jail site is located at the interior of West Jefferson and West South Streets in Kosciusko by the county maintenance shop and has been an ongoing project for the Attala County Board of Supervisors.
Kosciusko Mayor Jimmy Cockroft said some of the property the supervisors had acquired is residential and “we have asked them to zone it commercial.”
“We are only to set a hearing for rezoning,” Cockroft said. “There is nothing in the zoning ordinance about the building of a jail.”
Alderman Robert Ellis, whose Ward 3 residents will be effected by the placement of the jail, had some concerns.
“I don’t want to see this go through and get the phone calls later that they don’t like what you put up,” Ellis said of the security fencing. “I would like to know. They are calling and they are asking. “
The jail would have one privacy fence and two security fences in place. The privacy fencing would be on three sides of the facility.
“One of the things we talked about was the cyclone fencing with slats in it but we thought that’s not attractive looking and we’ve ruled that out. It isn’t sufficient,” Board of Supervisors Attorney Scott Pickle said. “We want it to look nice and be a good neighbor. We were thinking something in the treated wood or vinyl covered.”
The height of the fence also concerned Ellis.
Supervisor Charles Fancher said he expected the privacy fence to be 12 to 14 feet high.
“Any higher and you are going to have problems with wind knocking it down,” Fancher said. “From day one we knew that we would have to do something for privacy.”
After Ellis’ motion to not set a hearing date died for lack of a second, Alderman Marvin “Pop” Lawrence, a former Attala County sheriff, made the motion to set the hearing date with Alderman Henry Daniel seconding the motion.
“This is something that is badly needed by this county. It has been needed for a long time,” Lawrence said. “I know that no one wants it in their backyard and I wouldn’t either. I, for one, don’t want to stand in the way of this jail being built cause it is needed.”
“They are going to shut this one down and then what are we going to do,” Lawrence said.
Fancher said that would be the next step.
“If we don’t build one, we are going to have to send our prisoners somewhere else,” Fancher said. “Maybe we are a little bit more at ease with it, Mr. Ellis, because we’ve been dreaming with this thing for months. Maybe we haven’t kept you up to speed like we should have.
“This is our last resort. If we don’t do this, we don’t have any other place in the city limits to do this,” Fancher said. “It’s just that plain and simple.”
Ellis said his findings indicated that the jail doesn’t have to be within the city limits.
Pickle said he would be glad to furnish the board and their attorney George Dorrill with the Attorney General’s opinion that says the jail must be built within the city limits of the county seat.
Lawrence, Daniel and John Sullivan were for the hearing while Ellis voted nay. Alderman Tim Kyle was absent from the meeting.