Sunday, February 21, 2010

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XLIX): What to do with a condemned (but historic) jail

The February 4 and February 11 issues of the Newton County Times don't have a lot of law and order news to report, but there are some stories of related interest.

The first is from the front page of February 4 paper, and it is headlined "What's the jail worth?" Here's the lede:
The Newton County Quorum Court directed County Judge John Griffith to find out what the historic Newton County Jail is worth, should the county want to sell it.

The question came up at the end of the quorum court's regular monthly meeting Monday night, Feb. 1, at the courthouse.
Regular readers will recall the county's long-standing jail saga, which ultimately resulted in the century-old structure being closed in the summer of 2009 under threat of condemnation. Read more here and here.

What seems odd about the possibility of selling the jail is that a big chunk of "downtown" Jasper, the county seat, has recently been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Read a related story here. The jail is less than a block from this area and, seeming to meet the requirements for this national designation also, it would seem very odd to sell the jail for any purpose that would permit it to be destroyed and the land used for some other purpose. Perhaps the county is contemplating "selling" the jail to some sort of historic preservation society, but if a local one exists, I am certain it would not have funds to make a major purchase like that of the jail.

A front-page story in the Feb. 11 newspaper announces that the Newton County Sheriff, Keith Slape, is running for re-election. In his statement of reasons he is seeking re-election, he highlights headway that has been made in eliminating the county's meth problem, which he says is linked to all of the county's other crime problems. Read some stories about law enforcement successes against meth here and here.

No comments: