A Second Jail Site in Howard County??

by Jacqueline Sit
NewsWest 9

More controversy brewing over the Howard County jail, even the Sheriff Dale Walker tells NewsWest Nine there's a lot more questions than resolutions in today's meeting.

"I missed the positive news, I came out of there totally confused," says Sheriff Dale Walker about this morning's county commissioners meeting.

Confusion over the Howard County jail site.

Just two weeks ago, county commissioners gave the okay to build a new jail off Highway 80, not only is that site being surveyed, but now, so is a second site right across the court house.

"I don't understand surveying and spending money on location across the street from the courthouse to build a jail there when they decided not to build a jail there," says Walker.

On Monday, county Judge Mark Barr gave the green light to survey the site for the possibility of a "second jail" facility, he says it's because some citizens prefer a second option.

"I think convenience to the courthouse and district court, they are concern that we're losing our downtown area and we don't need to move anything else outside of downtown area," says Andrews County Judge Mark Barr.

But Sheriff Walker says this area is simply not suitable.

"It's not a big enough location, they have two architects tell them that now, they're still not accepting that. or someone isn't apparently it's the county judge he just can't accept the fact that it's too costly, there's buried tanks there from gas stations, utilities going under the site," says Walker.

That's only part of the reason and the sheriff says all this doesn't help with their plans.

"Instead of moving forward I think they're stepping back again and I can't answer why," says Walker.   

But Judge Barr says they are making progress.

"I don't think it's a step back at all, as a matter of fact, it may be a step forward because it'll give citizens of Howard County more education on what they're looking at and what the cost difference is going to be," says Barr.

Officials all agree they need a new county jail, but looking over this second site.

"It maybe a good deal because it will answer a lot of questions," says Barr.

"I guess that's what they're trying to do is come up with a location and cost for giving good price for the jail, but why are we going back to the site across the street from the courthouse again, it's just not sending a clear message to the people at all," says Walker.

Judge Mark Barr says it'll cost about 500 dollars to survey the second jail site, keep it tuned to  NewsWest Nine as we continue to follow this developing story.