Residents Prepare For Remote Jail Site Meeting With Commissioners - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/17/06- Smith County

Residents Prepare For Remote Jail Site Meeting With Commissioners

Folks that live near the proposed remote site for the new Smith County Jail say they are not giving up. The site is located on County Road 378 and County Road 381 in Smith County. This weekend, concerned residents met to discuss the new county jail moving into their neighborhood. Those residents are meeting again tonight, this time with the Smith County Commissioners. The commissioners were invited to the residents' meeting on Saturday, but none of them showed up. Commissioners told me today they had already planned the meeting for tonight at Harvestime International Church to talk with the community.

Residents say the main question they want answered is why, which is a word we've heard many time.

"Why have we not heard about this before?," said Martha Welch, concerned resident. "Why are they picking our neighborhood? Why can't they keep it downtown?". Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton says she understands the communities frustrations.

"We've received phone calls," said Hampton. "No one, absolutely no one wants to locate a jail in a residential area. South Tyler doesn't want it. North Tyler doesn't want it. East Tyler doesn't want it. West Tyler doesn't want it. Downtown wants the facility." Downtown is where both Hampton and residents living near the remote site want the new jail to be.

"Personally, I just think we should go ahead and locate the jail downtown, but we have said as a court that we want to make sure we are being fiscally responsible, so we are looking at two sights, a remote sight and a downtown sight and we are comparing those two sights," said Hampton. The community says it's ready to voice their opinion tonight.

"We feel like hey we have just as much right to say no we don't want this in our community as if you were on Cumberland Road or Rieck Road or anywhere down there in South Tyler that has those big million dollar fancy homes," said Davey Smith, Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. "They are going to holler and scream. Why can't these people holler and scream?." Commissioners say the meeting is for them to listen to what the community has to say, but they will try to answer as many questions as possible. The commissioners will decide between the downtown location or remote location in the middle of February. Smith County residents will vote on that location this May in the bond election.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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