Jackson Co. breaks ground on new jail

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT)- Jackson County officials came together for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new county jail Tuesday.

The new facility will be built east of town near the ASU- Newport campus.

"We're finally at our groundbreaking which has taken about a year," said Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips. "To finally get everything where it's needed and for us to get started is nothing but pure relief."

Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips said this project has been a year in the making, and bad weather conditions forced them to delay construction.

"We've got a long way to go and they said the project it's going to take 15 months to complete," he said.

The county got the land for free after a swap with the local bond board.

"We traded that for this 4 acres which is a lot more land, and a lot more for future expansion for gardening," Phillips said.

Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas said he wants to thank the residents who made today possible. Last year voters approved two sales taxes to fund the project.

"They've given us the tools that we need and my officers need to do their job," Lucas said. "It's a lot of relief; it's been about a nine year struggle for me. I've been trying to get to this point since 2005 when I first took office."

And Lucas said this new locations comes with a lot of benefits.

"The benefits of having it out here versus in town where we're at, number one we're out of a residential area and we're more secure out here," Lucas told Region 8 News.

There is one way in and one way out. The new facility will have 104 beds which is a step up from the 26 bed facility the county currently has.

"It's 4 times the size of what we're in right now but the total facility itself is just under 38,000 square feet," Lucas said.

Lucas said they spent $100,000 dollars last year sending inmates to another county because they didn't have the room.

Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips said that bids will open at 2 p.m. Thursday at the courthouse and the construction will start soon after a bid has been selected.

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