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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Corrections Partnership
Members of the Cocke County Corrections Partnership meeting Thursday heard a report on the status of the jail and then discussed possible funding options. Bob Bass, Detention Facilities Manager for the Tennessee Corrections Institute said a review of the two county jails in January resulted in a number of findings. He told the committee that one of the concerns is the fact that the jails are spread out, with a facility that is divided by a street and a railroad track. The courthouse has cracks on the exterior, and the third floor jail has poor lighting. It is equipped with unapproved porcelain toilets, windows have cracks, there is overcrowding and both jails have roof leaks. Bass pointed out that it is difficult to modify an existing building for a jail, and usually also is more costly. Jay Henderlight of MBI Architects told the members a 280 bed jail likely will cost $25 million, without a justice center. There has been discussion about an expansion of the current courthouse to the parking lot to the west, but Bass said that space would not be adequate for the size of jail that is needed. Cocke County currently does not have a wheel tax, but Commissioner Forrest Clevenger suggested a wheel tax of $30 per vehicle instead of a 25 cent property tax increase to fund a jail. "A wheel tax of $30 per vehicle will cover the cost of this jail. I've talked to alot of my constituents in this county and you would not believe how open people are to the idea of a wheel tax. Twenty years ago if you said wheel tax you might as well have been cursing baby Jesus. The majority of property owners are for a wheel tax because they are tired of paying 100 percent of the tax burden in this county. But Commissioner Gayla Blazer disagreed. "Most of the taxpayers I talk to, when they are talking about a wheel tax, they want the money to go to roads, not to a jail. Where are we going to spend it at ?" But Clevenger argued there are only two sources for the funding of a jail; a wheel tax or increased property taxes. Chief Deputy Derrick Woods also reported that jail medical costs have been reduced significantly since QCHC has been brought on board to negotiate the reduction of hospital billing. He said a recent $168,000 bill was resolved with a $10,000 payment by the county. The Alabama based firm is paid 15 percent of the savings negotiated. So the bill reduction of $158,000 netted the firm $23,700.


Return to Today's News Stories - Front Page

Friday, May 17, 2019

  • Partnership update
  • Cocke Circuit Court pleas
  • Ealy looses her RN license
  • April employment numbers
  • Johnson execution

    Thursday, May 16, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Casada saga continues
  • Roberts arrest
  • Ownby arrest

    Wednesday, May 15, 2019

  • Newport City Council approves new budget
  • Dykes named Big Red coach
  • Tennessee crime stats
  • Memorial Day travel

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Appalachian Trail killing
  • Kidnapping arrest
  • Gasoline prices move lower

    Friday, May 10, 2019

  • Cocke County rafting industry continues its growth
  • Cocke County Finance Committee
  • Shadow of the Smokies Trail
  •    

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