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Commission looking at 2005 projects

The Hale County Commission enters the year 2005 with a question they have been asking for some time. The commission continues to work toward a solution to the problem of what to do with the old county jail.

Since the construction of the new jail in 2000 the old building has been vacant. Commission Chairman Leland Avery said the jail is one of the biggest items the commission is currently looking into.

“Right now we are talking about doing an upgrade on the jail and what we can do with it,” Avery said. “We are just planning and talking about some things.”

Because the jail has not been housing prisoners there has been no need to maintain it. Priority has been given to buildings in use and need. Now, the commission would like to see something done with the vacant building and want to start by surveying what needs to be done.

Avery said since the jail was vacated problems have arisen in the structure.

“It hasn’t had anybody in it since then and the roof is leaking,” Avery said. “We just want to fix the roof and some other things in there. The steal bars need sandblasting as well.”

The commission will use the next few months to begin planning so a hasty decision will not be made. Avery said they are not ready to announce any concrete decisions for the old jail until they have passed around ideas and looked at costs.

“It is just in the planning stages right now,” Avery said. “We have to check on some prices and look at some other things like that.”

Next door to the jail, a great deal of progress has been made on another building project. For months the Hale County Courthouse has undergone renovations to improve its appearance and stability. The project is reaching its closing stages as the scaffolding has been taken down.

Avery said there was a small amount of work to be done at the top of the structure. Other than that, they are wrapping up.

“The court house is pretty much done,” Avery said. “They are not quite through with the top part of it yet, but they are almost done.”

How quickly the job is completed will depend heavily on dry weather. Leland said as long as conditions were cooperative things should progress as planned.

“The weather has been the biggest hold up with it,” Avery said. “How the weather holds up will be a big part of it.”