Incoming Smith County Judge Withdraws From New Jail Committee

Today, incoming Smith County Judge Joel Baker respectfully declined to serve on the new committee on the jail project. It is called the Facilities Planning Committee.

In a letter to new committee members and selected commissioners he writes: "...current business obligations will not permit me to attend every scheduled meeting and this committee deserves the full attention of its members."

His letter goes on to say, he was not asked for input concerning the makeup of this new committee but he wishes them good luck.

Baker did leave the window open to take part on this committee under one circumstance. If he is asked to assume his new office early. He is not scheduled to take office until January, 2007.

Baker writes: "In the event I am asked to serve before the end of the year, I would set aside my business obligations to assume the duties of County Judge."

This letter stems from a decision made earlier this week regarding the citizen's group formed to give feedback on the new Smith County Project. It was disbanded, less than a month after its creation. The 47-member group was cut to 16, forming the new committee. Joel Baker was one of the new members selected.

Gillian Sheridan reporting.