ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Commissioners discussed the jail design process during its meeting on Monday.
According to Bladen County Manager Greg Martin, the board received a jail feasibility study earlier this year that evaluated the county jail’s needs, as well as looking at the construction of a new facility. Martin said the next step in the process is for the commissioners to appoint a set of committees that will advise the board and make recommendations throughout the process.
Martin said, for example, there are still decisions that have to be made regarding the possible locations for a new facility, financing options available to the county, the architectural design of the facility, and making visits to other jails to look at various administrative models and facility designs.
“The jail feasibility study looked at the need in terms of size and that kind of thing,” said Martin.
He said the architects performing the feasibility study did consider the possibility of using the former White Lake Prison facility, but the study rejected the option.
“The White Lake Prison is basically designed for minimum security (offenders),” said Martin.
He explained that the White Lake facility is designed for a population where everyone is on the same level of security and it was built with large dormitory-style rooms.
“A jail is different in that you have individuals being housed who are charged with a wide range of crimes,” said Martin.
For example, a jail can house those individuals charged with child support violations up to murder, said Martin. He added that, in a jail, you must be able to segregate the individuals based on the level of security required — minimum, medium or maximum.
“The White Lake facility doesn’t lend itself to being able to do that,” said Martin.
He said the current county jail was constructed about 1964, so it is grandfathered in terms of the codes it would have to meet if constructed today.
Martin also said that the facility simply isn’t efficient and trying to remodel the current facility, with the limited space available at that location, simply isn’t workable.
In other buisness:
— The board took a request from the Board of Education for an additional $186,000 for four teachers. Martin said the board denied the request in an 8-1 vote, with Commissioner Russell Priest casting the lone vote in favor of the request.
— The board held two public hearings, one regarding the schedule of values for the revaluation process and a hearing for the county land use plan. Martin said no one spoke at either hearing and the board voted to approve the land use plan. There was no request for a vote on the schedule of values, said Martin.
— The board gave the approval to move forward with collecting unpaid taxes from years 2004 to 2013.
— The board adopted an order directing the tax collector to collect taxes charged for the current tax year.
In a special called meeting at 5 p.m., the board voted to approve funding for several non-profit groups. Martin said the funding was already allocated in the budget.
The board approved the requests for all but one — Baldwin Branch Missionary Baptist Church.
Those non-profit agencies receiving funding from the board at last year’s levels are: Bladen County Youth Focus Project, the Bladenboro Historical Society, Special Olympics, Harmony Hall, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, and N.C. American Legion Post 404.
The board also deferred a decision on paying mileage to the animal control board members in the amount of $300 annually; paying mileage to all of the advisory board members at a rate of $12,000 annually or continue with the existing policy of reimbursing the Health and Human Services board only, until the next budget cycle.