Jail issue heats up in Grayson Co.

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

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.

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  • by Grillmeister Location: SOUTHEAST Sherman! on Mar 8, 2008 at 07:03 AM
    Why bother with mega-duplexes? We could just put them in one of those gaudy STARTER CASTLES that you see on the west side! A few of them even LOOK like prisons. Fortunately, county officials have come to their senses and are expanding the current jail right where it was intended to be...downtown Sherman! Now if you'll excuse me, all of this community activism has taken me away from my other pressing matters...I have cars to park in my front yard as I watch my house fall to the ground.
  • by leroy Location: sherman on Feb 29, 2008 at 04:56 PM
    Parole all those criminals, problem solved, we won't even need the jail we have. Or perhaps we could build some mega-duplexes for them! South and East Sherman... bring us your jails, your mega-duplexes, people parking on their lawns, crack houses, houses falling to the ground, creeks overgrown, low water pressure, we'll take it, it's a free for all over here. I did see some land for sale on 1417, maybe throw around some eminent domain words and the county can get it for free, plenty of wide open spaces there. Anyway, if your worried about escapes, it's not likely that someone who escapes from jail is going to hide at the nearest house.
  • by Mary Location: Sherman on Feb 26, 2008 at 02:58 PM
    You can all fight it if you want to but I seriously doubt it will do any good. For me it will be the same distance from my house no matter whether they move it or not. I do know that we are in a critical need for a larger jail. Our county spends thousands of dollars each month just to house inmates at other locations. I for one am just glad we're getting a new jail and where it goes, well that's not up to me.
  • by Anonymous Location: Howe on Feb 26, 2008 at 02:14 PM
    I find it interesting that no one in Sherman or Denison seems to want the jail in their neighborhood. It's only been a couple of months since the citizens of Howe were being criticized for coming together in protest of the half-way house that was planned. At least the jail is run by the county, secured, and the inmates are not free to socialize with the population.
  • by Ralph Location: Denison on Feb 26, 2008 at 02:14 PM
    With all due respect to "Concerned", nobody wants a jail in their backyard, but it is shortsided if that is the only aspect of this issue that concerns you. There are ample non-backyard locations available, but the players all have their own agenda. The City of Sherman wants to keep it in Sherman, others fear the airport location may cut into them feeding from the envisioned development trough, Black Knight wants to maximize their cut no matter the long term impact upon Grayson taxpayers, and the County Judge would prefer to leverage our future to contracts and agreements than to get his facts straight and put the issue before the voters (bond issue). Not to bring partisan politics into this, but a Republican Co. Judge would do just about anything rather than buck-up, and propose a tax increase to pay for a new or renovated jail. He'd prefer to keep the true costs out of the light of public scrutiny, and hope the chicks don't come home to roost until after he retires.
  • by Jennifer Location: Sherman on Feb 26, 2008 at 01:42 PM
    Excuse me, Steve. Yes, I realize the county is proposing the new jail site and not Sherman. However, I am strongly opposed to the location. I assume you do not live in southeast Sherman. I chose to buy my house here several years ago with the intentions of raising my children in a nice neighborhood where I don't have to worry about my property value going down, high-intensity lighting and inmates in my backyard. Oh, that and having the sewer plant and police firing range just minutes away. I guess you wouldn't mind a jail next door to your house. I suggest you write Judge Bynum and tell him that you would welcome the jail by your home. You'd relieve us on the southeast side.
  • by Concerned Location: Sherman on Feb 26, 2008 at 01:16 PM
    I don't give a hoot who the jail is run by, I just don't want it in my backyard. Period.
  • by Steve Location: Sherman on Feb 26, 2008 at 12:56 PM
    C'mon people, do a little research before you post a comment. lc clyde in Denison seems to think that the economy is going to drive people into a life of crime, the truth is that poor people today are more likely to suffer from obesity than starvation. And Jennifer from Sherman has it all wrong, the City of Sherman isn't the one building a new jail, its Grayson County. Don't get me wrong, I agree illegal immigration is a problem, but at least that culture is willing to take those jobs and work hard for a fraction of the price. Try using a non-hispanic legal-only workforce to get the job done, it will take twice as long and cost twice as much.
  • by Anonymous Location: Sherman on Feb 26, 2008 at 12:09 PM
    I do believe we need a new jail because of all the maintenance problems and overcrowding in the current facility. However, I don't believe we need a civilian company to come in and run the new jail for us. We have a good jail staff that has not had problems with escapes and everything else. I would gladly pay more in taxes to help pay for the new COUNTY run jail. I am glad that this has gone back to a committee and hope that the court will listen to what the committee as a whole has to say and that this is not just a gesture to make someone shut-up and then they do what they want to do anyway.
  • by !!!! Location: Grayson on Feb 26, 2008 at 12:00 PM
    Location may be the topic but doesn't $$money$$ play a big part. Ideas to throw around-main jail(downtown) keep but only for short-term sentences, week-end stays, temp book-ins, etc. Build a jail at the airport-if the inmates want to eat-they grow own food, they want to be clean-educate about cleanliness, county needs funds-encourage drawing to sell at all these fund raisers we have. Just a thought-citizens breaking the law will never stop so why not make them be a productive part of society(behind bars & barbwire!! I'm sure you guys can think of more-RIGHT!! Lets look at long-term & try to discourage lawbreakers from going to jail. How hard is it to break the law, go to jail, watch tv in jail, lay around, get 3 meals a day, warm shower, etc. This sounds like a vacation to some-let's make them work-jail should be hard not a vacation.
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