Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part LIII): Old jail valued at just $30K

The April 8 issue of the Newton County Times reports that the county's old jail, closed last summer after it was condemned, has been valued at just $30,000. The county has been considering selling the property in order to raise funds to help pay for its new jail. Read more here.

The story reports:
[Justices of the Peace] and County Judge John Griffith were dismayed that the building, located just off the square in the county seat, would be appraised so low.

[The county assessor] said the building is in bad shape and there are historical restrictions on what can be done to the exterior of the building. It was difficult to appraise because there is nothing similar to compare it to, the assessor explained.

In January, the judge told the court that a local group of artists inquired about using the old vacated jail as a museum and art gallery. Griffith was concerned about liability issues, the cost of carrying insurance on the building and continuing up-keep costs.
In other news, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln visited the county. The headline notes that she is the "first Arkansan to chair the Agri Committee." During her visit, Lincoln touted her efforts to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Bill, which would have expired in Sept., 2009. She noted that schools now have access to program such as "the fresh fruits and vegetables program and the farm to school programs so that you can get local foods into your schools. That helps local farmers as well as makes sure you get good nutritional foods locally grown into your schools." While that is an accurate description of the program, I would very much like to know if that is happening in Newton County--probably not, I suspect.

The text of the story about Lincoln's visit engages in some typically pro-Republican editorializing. At the end of a paragraph in which Lincoln said she would like to see some changes to No Child Left Behind, the reporter wrote, "She also claimed to support law enforcement." No other information about law enforcement or Lincoln's stance on specific issues related to it was noted in the story.

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