published Friday, December 10th, 2010

Grundy rescinds bond plan for jail

ALTAMONT, Tenn. -- By a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Grundy County Commission rescinded a plan passed last month to proceed with the issuance of a $10.5 million bond to fund a new jail and improve other county facilities.

The Grundy County Commission met in a special called meeting to discuss the resolution as well as a needs assessment and feasibility study for the jail.

The commission then approved a motion for a feasibility study to be conducted for the jail.

Grundy County Mayor Lonnie Cleek said his office had received several calls from the community and commissioners.

"There seems to be some misunderstanding," Cleek said. "The resolution has been put back on the agenda for discussion."

Commission Chairman Ralph Rieben said that on Nov. 22 the commission approved the resolution with only three dissenting votes.

Throughout the meeting Thursday, Rieben repeatedly warned the commission that waiting to pass a motion for funding the jail would cost the county money.

"The longer we put this off, the more it will cost us," Rieben said.

Commissioner Kelly Gibbs said he seconded the original motion on Nov. 22 on the understanding that the motion was just to notify the public the commission was looking to obtain the money.

"No way did I think we were going to issue the bonds (for the new jail)," Gibbs said. "I didn't think (the motion) was going to issue a bond."

Gibbs then made a motion to rescind the motion.

Commissioner Charles Rollins said the way the resolution is worded leads one to believe the commission is going to borrow the $10.5 million.

Commissioner Earl Gery said the only way the commission could proceed with the project was to see what work is needed and how much it would cost before borrowing money for the project.

Rieben said there are 60 inmates at the Grundy County Jail and the capacity of the jail is set at 32. With transporting inmates to other jails and paying to house them elsewhere, Rieben said it would cost the county $2,350 each day once a fire marshal said only 32 inmates could be in the jail.

Under rescinded Resolution 10-11-22E, $10.5 million could be sought to fund constructing, repairing, improving and equipping of a criminal justice center, jail facility, and other county buildings. The resolution also stated the public had 20 days from the date of publication to obtain 10 percent of registered voters of the county to protest the bond or it would move forward.

Contact staff writer Jeremy Belk at jbelk@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6345.

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