Future of old Fannin County Jail

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

FANNIN COUNTY, Tex. -- Two weeks ago, Fannin County officials voted to tear down the old county jail. Now several people are trying to save it, and the demolition might just be stopped.

It has been a Fannin County landmark since the mid 1940's. It's stood through ice storms and even tornadoes, but a couple of weeks ago it looked like it would finally be destroyed by the county itself. Now the jail could be saved and become the new home of a group that prepares the county for emergency situations.

It was the home to law enforcement and prisoners in Fannin County from 1942 until 2001, but all the history associated with the old county jail could be lost.

"When cities and counties across the state and across the nation build new facilities, that’s the type of structure they build here we have one in Fannin County already existing that could just be renovated and could serve the same purpose quite well."

Fannin County Emergency Management director Darrell Brewer says the old jail is a diamond in the rough and was surprised when officials voted to tear it down. He says the structure is perfect for a new emergency operations center, and he's trying to convince commissioners of that.

"I had been working on a proposal to utilize the basement of the old jail as emergency operations center and to consolidate emergency management offices in that area," Brewer says

Fannin County leaders voted 3-2 to tear down the aging building on December 4. Judge Butch Henderson was the deciding vote and says he sees the site as a potential place to build new offices in order to relocate county workers if or when the courthouse is renovated.

It’s something the old jail can't provide.

"It’s been recommended that second floor jail cells be used to store records and first floor rooms be turned into new offices of course that all hinges on whether commissioners vote to keep the building early next year."

"We as a court, as commissioner’s court are willing to re look at issues and make sure we've got all the issues covered and we're willing to re look at this one."

Commissioners decided to delay demolition and explore any potential uses for the new jail on Thursday morning, which could include building around it and adding more offices. In the meantime, Brewer says he will continue to work on plan for a new EOC in what he calls a perfect spot.

"If a disaster occurs in this area generally its going to include the city and the county working together this would be centrally located for both the city and the county."

Fannin County officials say a couple of people have shown interest in purchasing the jail and renovating it themselves. Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the issue again on January 14.


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