HUNTER REPORT EXCLUSIVE NEWS
SHERIFF GUIDER SHARES PLANS
FIRING RANGE, DRIVING TRACK, JAIL EXPANSION ... $15 Million
BY: PAT HUNTER
The Capital Projects Committee had a full plate for Monday's Oct 17th meeting lasting over 2 hours. Minus two committee members (Commissioners Roy Bledsoe and David Meers), the remaining committee members Commissioners Brian Jenkins, Harold Duff, and Purchasing/Maintenance Director Leo Bradshaw heard from two elected officials. After Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson finished explaining his Capital Projects Committee requests, Sheriff Tim Guider was next to share his Capital Projects requests. What have we gotten ourselves into; this was (Commissioner) Sharron Yarbrough's idea said one committee member. I'm the most expensive Sheriff Tim Guider commented. It's like going to a candy store, what do you need, added another committee member. After a few chuckles, the committee sat down for some serious discussion about the Sheriff's future needs; all big dollar ticket items.
According to Leo Bradshaw, there is money in this year's budget $28,000 for Hodge and Associates to drill for core samples and find out what is wrong with the Loudon County Jail facility. Bid specifications would have to be prepared on the corrective action of the building. There's a problem on the right hand side corner. He couldn't understand why due diligence wasn't done before a second story was added to the Justice Center. I don't think the foundation will support it. It was built on that bank with fill dirt. Guider said that he was against that but it was built nonetheless. Isn't there any recourse, he asked? The same engineering consultants, and construction company that built the Annex also built the jail expansion. Sheets of steel have been installed to address the growing gaps of one-half to three quarters inch wide.
FIRING RANGE & DRIVING TRACK
Discussions changed to Sheriff Guider's future Capital Project request. He didn't have many figures. He was in need of some jail beds, and a computer server. "I think that its time for us to take care of our ourselves" and do firearms training and emergency vehicle driving training. In the past, we have not had the ideal joint ventures between the cities and county. He wasn't sure if the cities would share the costs of a "Firing Range" and "Driving Track" if we can find some property. Commissioner Brian Jenkins, a Loudon City police officer, asked if there was any industrial property available. EDA President Pat Phillips would be the person to ask but the Sheriff had heard that there was some property with about 25 acres located nearby Malibu Boats in the Sugar Limb Industrial Park. It's city county owned in a flood plain area. There would be some people that wouldn't want a firing range said Bradshaw. What's it close to asked Sheriff Guider, nothing, you got a train that comes through every ten minutes. And sometimes where you build it could minimize the echo. Anything I will deal with, it's not cheap added Guider. Would it be similar to the firing range like Blount County asked Commissioner Duff? That's a million dollars and this would be a step down a notch or two. The Sheriff shared some information that for twenty-one lanes with mechanical targets would be $750,000; a lead retention system would be mandated.
The driving track was built by the highway department for about $350,000 referring to Blount County. Why would you need a driving track asked Commissioner Duff. Its mandated a couple of hours a year responded Commissioner Jenkins. Not just policemen but ambulance and fire fighters and anyone who drives an emergency vehicle added Sheriff Guider. Do you drive round and round; no, its an obstacle course? We hate to go to Blount County every time. The Firing Range is something that is needed for training said Sheriff Guider. There was a brief discussion about Firing Ranges locations in Loudon County. Do you go to Watt Road asked Bradshaw? No its off Antioch Church Rd. What's the one on Sugarlimb? Its kind of private one to the FOP, and Leon Shield's is leasing from Don Fowler.
JAIL JUDICIAL CENTER FACILITY
A separate facility will have to be built considerate of transportation and safety concerns. Many options have been discussed over the years. We can't wait on bed space commented Sheriff Guider, we are running on 150% all the time; 50 to 60 prisoner capacity. Bradshaw spoke about the destruction cost factor of having to replace or fix. Four Million dollars for the last expansion including re-wiring and sprinkling the entire facility to bring it up to codes. Carter County is building a new jail with 350 beds next to the old jail but the new construction has cracks in the floors explained Sheriff Guider. Carter County would also need 35 jailers. Will you need cars within the next 5 years Bradshaw asked, yes but it is not included in this list replied Sheriff Guider? You're looking at propping up what you have right now, and building some pods in the future commented Duff. The county has few state prisoners, but no federal prisoners. The Sheriff spoke about East Tennessee being in the Top 4 of the most holding prisoners in the nation beating out Atlanta. The committee discussed various expansion scenarios, or possibly building a new jail judicial facility. Debt service on $15 Million would be about one and one half million dollars. Commissioner Duff suggested inviting the other commissioners to tour the jail facility. You have nice office space but why you're there is under that. The Court system is also out of room.
We spoke about this at the ad hoc meeting said Guider, do you think the County could support a Juvenile Facility? It could if it wanted to replied Commissioner Duff who works for the Juvenile Dept. What if you contracted with other counties like Blount County? The Sheriff will bring back more information. A Jail Study Ad Hoc Committee was recommended by Mayor Estelle Herron to study the issue of a jail expansion and bring back a recommendation to the Mayor and Commission. As Budget Chair Mayor Herron advocated setting aside tax pennies for the jail-court expansion but the majority of the Budget Committee did not favor doing so at this time. Commission recently approved the Mayor's Jail Study Committee which will be comprised of Sheriff Tim Guider, Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles,