Jail Committee Is Disbanded, New One Is Formed

Smith County commissioners re-think their plan to get community feedback on the new jail project. This morning, officials voted to disband the 47-member citizens committee and nominated members for a new, much smaller group.

The court feels the change was essential to move the project forward but those who did not get chosen say the commissioners' decision is unfair.

Following this vote, Smith County commissioners sent out an e-mail explaining their decision to members of the citizens committee. Part of that e-mail read:  "The committee was split on how to move forward causing an impasse which must be crossed so the process can continue. As it was at our discretion to form a committee to look into the matter, we must also make a decision to take the information this committee has provided and move forward with a smaller group."

Commissioners also nominated those they wanted on the new committee. "These are people we've worked with in the past. We've had these folks involved in tasks force, not just in the county but a representative group from city, the whole community as well," said Smith County Precinct 2 Commissioner David Stein.

Sheriff J.B. Smith says he's optimistic about the future of the project with the change. "I know each one of these inviduals and they can work together and I think that they have, each one of these individuals has the betterment of Smith County at heart. I feel encouraged with it," Smith.

But Ken Good, who headed the "No No Committee" a group that helped defeat the two jail proposals on last month's ballot. He says the commissioners' decision sends a clear message.

"The commissioners court has just told them, we don't care. We don't like what you're telling us, so goodbye. We'll get some new people in who will tell us something better," said Good. "I think that the perception now is overwhelming. And this committee is now going to be known as Becky Dempsey's 'Yes, Ma'am Committee'," said Good.

We tried contacting County Judge Becky Dempsey to comment on today's decision, but told us she was not available. Those nominated have to accept whether they'll participate in the new committee. A meeting is tentatively scheduled for Friday.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting. ortega@kltv.com