SHERMAN, Tex. -- Opinions are heated in Grayson County on a new county jail. County officials say they want to explore every option, while some say a jail near their homes should not be an option.
Commissioners spent more than an hour deciding the best next step for a jail in Grayson County. The bottom line is something must be done, but it’s matter of where and how.
Norman Ponder is walking the streets, making sure everyone in his south Sherman neighborhood knows a 1,500-bed jail could be built near their neighborhood.
"It should not be taken out and put into a residential community, especially not like this out here, that's why we're fighting it so hard," Ponder says.
Ponder says he and a few others passed out 2,000 fliers, and now have more than 1,000 signatures on a petition asking for the jail to be built somewhere other than one proposed location off ida road and highway 11.
"They put the jail out there, you'll never see another house built out here. Totally devastating," Ponder says.
Sherman Keith Gary says this is an issue the county simply cannot put on the backburner any longer.
"We cannot put this off any longer. We've been looking at building a new jail for seven years."
County commissioners say they want to hear from the public and explore every option, including a private partnership, renovating the current jail, or asking the state jail commission for permission to house more inmates permanently or picking a different site altogether.
"We’ve got architects and engineers that say you can do one thing, you've got them saying you can do another. They've never put a price tag to the fact that if we go in and remodel the jail and need to add some space, how much does it cost? And that's going to be a taxpayer decision," Garsyon County Judge Drue Bynum says.
A group of residents met as a judicial committee in 2006. Now commissioners want that committee and anyone else interested to put their heads together to quickly come up with a solution.
"We have the jail commission looking over our shoulder, and we must do something."
There are two meetings planned. Those opposed to the Ida Road location plan to meet at the Elks Lodge on March 6th to hear from county officials and ask questions.
Judge Bynum hopes the citizen input committee can start meeting sometime next week, because the deadline for a decision is June 1.