Ector Co. commissioners approve $25M jail extension

Ector Co. commissioners approve $25M jail extension
Ector County Commissioners Court (Source: KWES)

Extension of the Ector County Jail has remained a hot topic for county commissioners for the better part of a year now, and today that didn't change.

They approved a $25 million limit on the extension, but one commissioner says they should've held up on the approval.

There was only one commissioner who did not approve of the budget for the Ector County Jail extension.

Commissioner Greg Simmons said his opposition is more or less because he wants to look at more options first, but does know it's time to get the jail, which can hold 667 inmates at a time.

"I do know we've got to do something," Simmons said. "At some point we are going to have to expand the jail. This one takes a pretty big leap, it goes, adds three different pods. You could say we could've got by with two right now, maybe save some costs. But again, everybody has their own rational."

The County Commissioner said the jail is not the only project the county needs to be working on, and he's hesitant to back themselves into a corner, but County Judge Ron Eckertt says that will not be an issue.

"It's been 24 years since the jail was built, we've gone slow enough," Eckerett said. "It's time to quit talking, it's time for action. It's time to take care of Ector County's infrastructure. As a boy who grew up here in Odessa, one who came back home, I look around at our structures here in Ector County and many of them are falling apart. This is the first one that gets done because it was the first one that was right. But don't take that as a signal that we're not going to do the other things."

He said the public needs to know they're very serious about this situation.

"But again, I'm not a punter, I'm a quarterback. I'm not going to keep punting the football to other future commissioners courts. It's time that this commissioners court identifies issues and implements those."

The county commissioners will meet again in May to make the announcement about how much will be spent on the jail. Until then, they're going to be looking at all of their options.

Eckert also said if everything goes as planned, they could start construction as early as next year.

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