Speaking to Rotarians

Hunt County Judge Bobby Stovall speaks to the Greenville Noon Rotary Club Wednesday.

First of two parts

Hunt County Judge Bobby Stovall presented the Greenville Noon Rotary Club with an update Wednesday of the status of the county in general.

Although there are good things in the works for Hunt County, Stovall noted there are significant challenges on the horizon, including the ongoing issues with the Hunt County Jail.

“When our jail was built almost 20 years ago, it had problems with it from day one,” Stovall said. “Those problems still exist and they are getting amplified more every day.”

Stovall said multiple water leaks are reported with the jail each day, along with doors which refuse to open or close and portions of the floor occasionally rising and falling.

“We have electrical issues and structural issues and it is a big problem,” he said. “It is a $40-to-$50 million problem.”

The Hunt County Commissioners Court has come up with a potential solution. In July the commissioners voted to approve a proposal agreement for architectural services from Brinkley Sargent Wighton Architects, to determine if the former Juvenile Detention Center can be renovated to accept adult inmates.

“That structure is sound as a rock,” Stovall said. “There is nothing wrong with that facility except that it is 40 years old.”

The former Juvenile Detention Center was closed three years ago.

The Hunt County Juvenile Board voted unanimously in favor of the decision in May, 2016  due to a lack of ongoing contracts for the facility.

The current jail is rated to house 386 inmates and holds about 300 inmates each day, Stovall said.

The former juvenile detention center building would be used to house up to 100 of the inmates which currently are housed at the jail, while Stovall said the county can reduce the total number of inmates by refusing to house prisoners awaiting federal prosecution.

New rules which would limit the number of inmates which can be held in custody if unable to make minimum bonds would also help.

“Our numbers will come down a little bit,” Stovall said, adding that the west side of the current jail may be able to be salvaged.

“It is the east side of the jail that causes most of the problems,” he said. “So, that’s what we are trying to get to for a 10-15 year plan.”

Stovall said that there are other options being considered, in the event renovating the former juvenile center doesn’t pan out.

One potential obstacle is the facility is not compliant with the Americans With Disability Act.

“It is a two story facility and there is no elevator, so we’ve got to fix that problem,” Stovall said.

The growth being experienced in the county is causing another concern.

“In talking to the judges at the courthouse, they think in 10 years give or take we’re going to need to add some more courts and we don’t have any more room at the courthouse,” Stovall said. “The judges are telling us is they want to see a new jail built at that time, along with a new courts facility. That’s the direction we’re trying to head.”

Friday: Stovall addresses plans for improving county roads in the years ahead and the status of when or if Hunt County will receive a new Texas Driver’s License Office.

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