To my community:
I owe you all a serious apology because of a recent vote, I made as one of your school board members. I had just received the Amended Board Agenda about two hours before the Board meeting and didn’t have time to research or study the problem as I should have. To say I was ill prepared is putting it mildly. I will also say, my first, last and only concern is to do what is right for our schools, our staff and my community.
I voted to accept the “gift” of one-half acre of land from Mr. Rader. I wondered if this gift might having something to do with the new jail which was being considered for the area, but when I asked that question, I was told this definitely was not so. I was assured it was not that at all, but rather involved the safety and welfare of our students. Now you and I know better than that, or at least I should have. In fact, when discussing the problem with the County Commissioners on Tuesday, I was told that Mr. Rader offered to sell all of his property to the county if they wanted it.
An important item of consideration, why would we need the one-half acre of ground across the road and in the industrial district when we purchased 40 acres north of the present school property. If we want to insure the safety and well-being of our children (which is why we caved in and voted the wrong way) it would be feasible to use land that already joins school property and is on the same side of the highway. Why go further down the road and across the highway for an Alternative Education Building when we could build one on District land. The same thing goes for the new Sports Complex – build it on land we already have. We have 40 acres to work with already adjoining school land, so why would the “gifted” half-acre be so important? I believe it is for no other reason than to prevent the building of the new jail.
The new jail would be a state-of-the-art facility that this county desperately needs. This area would be the most cost efficient place for a jail to be built as there is already waste, gas and three-phase power in the area. The county would only be out the cost of the sewer lines and a pump system that this area needs anyway. To put the jail in any f the other areas considered would be cost prohibitive and would burden our community with higher taxes. This building would not be surrounded by wire and would be an attractive asset to the community. It would also provide maximum security for all of the inmates.
I don’t believe the old jail is secure enough. I was told a good kick would open a door and an inmate could be free without a lot of trouble. I certainly don’t know about that, but I do know since we moved to this area in 1994, there have been several jail breaks.
It is my understanding that the differences in distance between the schools and the old jail; and the schools and the new site are a matter of 2340 feet, or approximately 730 yards. In any case, when there is such an occurrence, the schools have certain safety and lock-down procedures. Thanks to our CFO/Director of Business, our superintendent, our principals and staff, every item of safety they could think of has been considered.
Not only will there be a problem with the jail overcrowding penalty fines assessed against the county – if the new Sports Complex is built later in this area - the school will have to pay for the sewer system which the county would have paid for. Jay, as our county seat, cannot expand and bring in new business without a good sewer and water system. I understand this is one of the main reasons why Jay hasn’t grown, while the neighboring town of Grove continues to expand. An added plus along with the new jail would be the required sewer system could bring in new businesses to our area and more revenue for the schools. It’s a win-win situation for the county and the schools when you are informed of all the facts.
I don’t know if many of you realize that our jail is overcrowded and the county will soon be fined $10,000.00 a day for the overcrowded conditions. This penalty phase will begin to be assessed in the near future. If the new facility is built, not only will it be large enough for years to come; the county can earn an additional income for housing inmates from nearby counties. It won’t take long for $300,000.00 every thirty days assessment against the county to make your taxes and my own triple in price and that is something I don’t want to happen. On top of this penalty, will be the additional cost to Delaware County for sending our juveniles to other counties for housing pending their hearings. I certainly won’t like it if a new assessment should cost us double or triple taxes.The jail presentation group be at the March 13 board meeting to show any interested people exactly what will happen if and when the jail is built. It is always better to make an informed decision than to believe the gossip and half-truths that seem to be everywhere.