published Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Rhea County won't build jail in downtown Dayton

  • photo
    Sgt. Jake Miller walks the corridor inside the Rhea County Jail in Dayton, Tenn.
    Photo by Photo by Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. — Rhea County's new detention center will be built somewhere other than the site of the present jail, county commissioners decided Thursday night.

Meeting in special session to consider action on the jail, commissioners briefly considered a motion to purchase a 14-acre tract on 16th Avenue next to Richland Park Shopping Center, then voted simply not to build downtown.

Commissioner Ron Masterson offered the motion to buy the property for $400,000, provided it proved suitable for building. His motion included a provision to build a 200-bed facility on the site, with a courtroom suitable for preliminary court proceedings for individuals accused of crime.

But Commissioner Tracy Taylor questioned how much of that property is subject to flooding. County Attorney Carol Barron said almost eight acres are not in flood zones.

Commissioner Emmaly Fisher, who represents the district in which the property lies, questioned architect David Brown about proposed access to the site. Before he could answer, Commissioner Grover Parks said, "I'm not sure I'm ready to vote tonight to purchase property. I'm ready to vote to go off site" from downtown Dayton.

Fisher added, "I don't think we should do anything until we have a public hearing and people in the area have an opportunity to comment."

Masterson withdrew his motion and a substitute motion to build somewhere other than downtown passed unanimously.

Fisher said, "We have two possibilities, maybe more," referring to the property considered Thursday as well as a site on Manufacturer's Road offered by Gary Louallen.

Commissioners agreed to hold a public hearing on the site question before making a decision to buy property. The motion was approved on an 8-1 vote, but the meeting was adjourned before a hearing date was set.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at

about Tom Davis...

Tom is the director of public information at Bryan College and has been in the Dayton community for 30 years.

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