Petition delays jail construction

June 26, 2012

Recap of Nolan County Commissioners' meeting held on Monday morning, June 25, 2012

Nolan County Commissioners accepted a petition Monday following the commissioners’ meeting, which will take county jail construction and fixing of the courthouse facade to the voters in November. Dr. Loren Bryant presented a petition of 446 signatures asking the issue to go to a bond election. This number meets the required 5% of registered voters, which equals 420 voters.
The petition for a bond election was presented prior to the meeting, and County Attorney Lisa Peterson took most of the day to verify each signature. Judge Tim Fambrough stated later that afternoon that the signatures had, in fact, been verified.
Fambrough admitted he was disappointed that the election will delay construction of the jail nine months to a year since the election doesn’t take place until the general election in November. With the location picked out, the architect finished with his work, and now a contractor awarded the bid, Fambrough said they would have started pretty quickly.
Turner Construction was awarded the bid to build the jail and repair the courthouse façade during Monday’s meeting as well.
Fambrough said he hopes that voters realize the need for the jail and that they will make it a reality in November. “We will have problems if it doesn’t pass,” he said, pointing out the state jail commission’s requirements for improvements to the jail.
Among other business, a burn ban was re-instated for the county and will be reviewed again at the next commissioners’ meeting in two weeks.
The purchase of a replacement laptop for the county auditor’s office was also approved within the price of $700 to $1100.
During the time allowed for citizens to speak, Ray Browning, the public health emergency preparedness planner with the Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department asked about the status of the purchase of a reverse 9-1-1 system. He pointed out that the health department had already paid $1,000 towards the project, which is to be paid for by the health department, county and city. Browning said the health department was afraid they would be in violation of the request for the grant and be forced to pay the funds back if they were not used within a specific time frame for this particular project. County Commissioner Terry Locklar apologized for the delay and assured Browning that the county would take care of their part in a timely manner.



July 9, 2012 by Voter (not verified), 3 years 7 weeks ago
Comment: 645

No Sir it is not that simple. If the jail is shut down all of the prisoners would have to be boarded out not just the ones that have to be because of lack of space or lack of ability to house them because of the current facility shortcomings and basically paying for another counties jail. Remodeling (Where do you think that money would come from? That would require a debt service too. Something the county has not had since the late 80s when the courthouse was paid for.)is not as cost effective as just breaking down and building a new jail especially given the things that are wrong with the current facility. Then there would be the additonal cost of boarding out inmates while the remodeling was done, even if it could be. Not to mention the additional cost of fuel for transport. Also if one of the inmates needs medical care instead of RPMH getting paid for it there would be more county money going to another county. One of the many issues is the jail being multi story and the inability to get a standard ambulance gurny on to the elevators. Then there are all the requirement that the The Texas Commission On Jail Standards require of County Jails, seperate cells for sick inmates, seperation by sight and sound between genders (that includes cells for the sick and detox cells)just to name a few of the big ones. The current facility has been running on variances almost since day one and variances are never meant to be perminant.

At the time the current jail was build there was no such thing as The Texas Commission On Jail Standards and they are really the ones in the drivers seat on when the jail gets shut down and likewise they would (and are) provide(ing) guidence on what the new jail should be like so that we would have that 50 year asset that a new jail brings.

If the jail is shut down the impact is going to be more law enforcement than just the SPD. It will impact the RPD,NCSO, and the DPS.

If you would come to public hearings, talk to your elected officials, and stay out of the coffee shops you might be more aware of what is really going on in the County. Sweetwater and Roscoe both are seeing growth in business and the county has a lower unemployment rate than both the state and the nation.


July 5, 2012 by Big A (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 640

Same old stuff different day!! Politics, politicians, and the who's who of GOOD OLE NOLAN COUNTY. Will it ever change????? Don't try to
change anything, don't try to bring in new business, don't even think about it unless it pads the pockets of the oh so respected of this county. Wow...and the elders wonder why the youth are leaving and not coming back. Go ahead "OH GREAT ONES" shut down yet more jobs that might keep some of our youth around here. This place will be a ghost town if you keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why So Serious?

July 4, 2012 by Skcus_Retaws (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 636

@ Sweetwater Sam


Stay delusional, my friends.

What's your suggestion

July 5, 2012 by echo71 (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 639

@ Skcus_Retaws.

Thank you for intellectually elevating this discussion to the next level. Your wisdom has shown me the errors of my thinking. But I'm left confused. If the state is going to shut down the Nolan County Jail, what are we supposed to do? The state standards that a new jail must meet are so strict as to make remodeling an existing building just as expensive as new construction. Jail capacity has to be expanded to meet an increasing and more diverse inmate population. We certainly don't want the sheriff deputies and city police being pulled off patrol duty to transport prisoners to other counties. Share with me what is a realistic alternative.


July 7, 2012 by Skcus_Retaws (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 642

1. Either the powers that be can suck it up and shell out the cash to remodel what's already in place, or 2. Deal with it.

So what if the jail shuts down, so does everything else here. What changes? Inmates are getting taken elsewhere anyway on a regular basis... and we wouldn't want all 4 SPD officers staying too busy ,would we? This sad little town certainly isn't big enough for two jails. If it was a good idea to build a new one, this discussion wouldn't be happening.

And don't thank me for elevating the conversation. You whiners and complainers have yourselves to thank for that. I'm just conversing in a manner you seem to understand best.

Ignorant and Oblivious

July 9, 2012 by Big L (not verified), 3 years 7 weeks ago
Comment: 644

Your statement clearly shows that you have no idea as to what is transpiring here. The "powers that be" have already made the decision to build a new jail based on the requirement of the State. That's what is called "dealing with it." Remodeling the jail is out of the question because it still won't be large enough to hold all of the incoming inmates. It will also cause a chain reaction throughout the entire courthouse thus causing it to probably be shut down to remodel completely so it meets code.

You say "So what if the jail shuts down, so does everything else here." There are some folks here that still care about this town. There are good people that would lose their jobs if the jail was shut down.

You obviously have no clue as to the job done by SWPD. Maybe instead of flinging mud at them how about going on a ride along with one.

Here's where you really make a fool of yourself. "This sad little town certainly isn't big enough for two jails. If it was a good idea to build a new one, this discussion wouldn't be happening." The proposal at hand isn't to build a 2nd jail. It is to build a replacement jail. Sure wonder what people were told on that petition because if they are as bright as you, well, i digress.

You are not elevating this conversation whatsoever. As a matter of fact, you have just proven yourself irrelevant by not knowing any of the facts.

You apparently have great disdain for this town with your name being "Swater Sucks" backwards and all of your negativity. If you don't care about what is happening here then by all means move on. I'm sure places like Austin would gladly accept you.

As far as the whining you refer to, call it what you will. We care enough about this town and people to fight for what we believe in. It is a little disheartening when 446 people out of over 8,400 voters can sign a shady petition without knowing the facts and cost the rest of us all of this extra time and money.

Wish it were that simple.

July 9, 2012 by echo71 (not verified), 3 years 7 weeks ago
Comment: 643

Just guessing here, but I guess you didn't go to any of the public meeting held concerning the current situation on the jail. If you had, you should recall that remodeling is neither cost effective or workable. Transporting a hand full of overflow prisoners is one thing, transporting an entire jail population is another. This option will be more expensive in the long run than new jail construction, not to mention drawing officers away from patrol.

Mmm, Delicious Tears

July 2, 2012 by Skcus_Retaws (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 634

Why are you all so assravaged? Can't you accept the fact that maybe you're all wrong? Maybe, people are intelligent enough to make their own decisions, rather than have some talking suits do it for them? Wait wait, no... no that can't be possible, can it? People... thinking for themselves...?

The petition was successful; Enough people decided that this needs to be challenged; Go cry somewhere else. Or better yet, go to the lake and cry. The tears your buttdevestation would generate would cause it to overflow, it would be glorious! You could complain all day and at the same time, actually do something constructive for once in your lives, instead of posting on the newspaper website of a dead town that no one reads.

Get over yourselves. Honestly, where else does this happen? A group of people don't get their way, so they resort to name-calling and hissy-fits. Wait... this sounds alot like Capitol Hill actually... it's strange... it's real green up there, and nothing gets done either... weird, huh?

November's gonna be fun!

Dead town?

July 3, 2012 by Sweetwater Sam (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 635

History shows that political activity is nonexistent in "dead towns", so I don't think Sweetwater or Nolan County qualify for that label. That said...consider - of those who went to the public hearings, at most two signed the petition. Perhaps being informed made a difference? Of those who contacted their county officials for information - none signed the petition - do you suppose that made a difference?

Many in the courthouse have been contacted by persons who signed stating that they were not told the truth - they thought that they were signing a petition for the jail. Yes, they should have read it; however, the number who ask how to have their names removed grows daily.

Yes, November will be interesting. Hopefully the people of the community will be sick of the eyesore of a courthouse in the middle of town, and agree to fix it. Hopefully jail standards won't shut us down before we can start on a solution. Hopefully people will realize that the election is not about "where" - that is decided; it is about to build or not to build - and that is not wholly our decision. Hopefully, the Commissioners will find a way to balance the increased costs without having to hit the rollback rate.

The petition has started an avalanche of (presumably) unintended consequences. Rather than getting buried by them, let's recognize them and try to mitigate them while we wait for the results of the election. While I couldn't understand a considerable amount of your comment (please consider spell check), I am certain your county commissioner would appreciate hearing your ideas on keeping the county solvent.

I've held my tongue long enough!

June 29, 2012 by Big L (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 628

I respect democracy and the rights of citizens to vote but what is the purpose of having elected officials if you don't allow them to do the job they were elected to do? The commissioners did exactly what they were elected to do and that was to make a decision based upon not just a suggestion from the State but a requirement. If the jail does not come up to current regulations then it will be shut down! This was explained at the multiple meetings held all over the county. A State Jail Commission representative even spoke at the meeting here in Sweetwater. This whole process was not held in secret and there were no closed door decisions made like in Washington. Dr. Bryant, your motives behind this petition are becoming blatantly obvious. The land across from the museum was not bought or stolen out from under you or the WASP museum. Your article in the Sweetwater Reporter would have us believe otherwise. Did you tell the whole truth to the people you asked to sign the petition? Did the locations that were used to host the petition have all of the pertinent information? These locations included the WASP museum of which I used to be a supporter, the Hall law firm at the butt of yet another controversy, Sweetwater's run-down Dairy Queen because Jerry Hulcy needs something to help make a name for himself to run for commissioner, and the former Doris' Sweet Shop of which I don't care what the new name is. I guess I have a few less places to take my business to now. All Dr. Bryant and the 5%'s have accomplished is increasing the cost. I hope it was worth it to you. People may lose their jobs thanks to you. I guess the Nolan County Sheriffs Dept can become the Nolan County Transport Dept because they will have to take every single person arrested to another county jail. This sure will change things out in the county when someone calls 911 for help and the deputy is in Taylor county transporting someone there because of an unpaid traffic ticket. Sounds ridiculous but if the jail is shut down that is what will happen. What about all of the jail employees? Just victims of the democratic process I suppose. Maybe they can go to the 5%'s and get handouts to support their families. I'm so glad the Hometown Heroes article came out in the paper the other day. Maybe that can be used on a resume somewhere else. Did the 5%'s consider or even know about these ramifications? Did they know how expensive this is going to get if inmates have to be housed elsewhere? Did they know that the Court House will continue to look like a big black box that will run up the utility bill trying to keep it cool this summer and warm this winter? I highly doubt it. I hold Dr. Bryant and the aptly named CAVE people/ 5%'s directly responsible for yet again halting progress in this town and county.

Mr Bryant favors progress

July 5, 2012 by echo71 (not verified), 3 years 8 weeks ago
Comment: 641

"I hold Dr. Bryant and the aptly named CAVE people/ 5%'s directly responsible for yet again halting progress in this town and county."

@ Big L,
You may be mistaken on this point or haven't you heard. Dr. Bryant is all for progress as long as it's on the north side of Avenger Drive. You see, the WASP Museum is about to embark on a big renovation and expansion of the Museum. They have somehow found a way to do this project without impacting their "pristine isolation", unlike the evil uncaring county. New construction and progress is perfectly fine as long as it's on the north side of Avenger Drive. To bad we don't get to sign a petition on whether we favor that.


June 27, 2012 by Redneck (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 627

The current jail is across the street from the movie theater your kids and mine were at nearly every Saturday night, but a few people in town and I mean a very few don't want the jail across from the WASP that is only open a few days. Maybe the ones who signed the petition can house the jail inmates when the jail is shut down at their homes? Just an idea since these few are costing the rest of us a lot of tax dollars.

CAVE people

June 26, 2012 by echo71 (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 625

The CAVE people have spoken.(CAVE-citizens against virtually everything) I can't help but wonder how many of the signers of the petition went to the trouble to inform themselves of the issues at hand by attending the public meetings held by the county months ago? Well, hopefully they will make an effort to learn the facts before the election and realize that the only thing accomplished by the petition was to delay the necessary and increase the cost. What a shame.

Train Wreck

June 26, 2012 by raiderfan (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 624

Does dr. Bryant have a clue to the ramifications of a possible jail closure or does he just not care as long the WASP Museum maintains it's "pristine setting"? Nolan County deputies will be too busy transporting jail prisoners to do any patrolling in the County. What will happen when the Sweetwater or Roscoe PDs make an arrest? Will members of these departments have to handle prisoner transport also? How will this affect 911 response times? Petitions are powerful things and voters need to be careful of the unintended consequences of ill advised petitions and uninformed or misinformed signatures.


June 26, 2012 by Voter (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 623

Well thanks to the "not in my back yard" camp, the conspiracy theory camp, and the coffee shop experts the mess that Nolan County is in just got bigger.


June 26, 2012 by Sweetwater Sam (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 622

Congratulations, Nolan County. Your courthouse will continue to allow weather to deteriorate things on the inside, as making it weatherproof is now put off until AFTER the November elections...

Your jail is due to be shut down...that means lay offs and a serious depletion in number of officers available to answer YOUR call because they will be transporting inmates to other counties

Your budget just went to heck...court appointed attorneys have to be paid mileage to visit their clients, and more inmates are likely to request court appointed when they are locked up out of town.

All this plus- the interest rate you had locked in was 2.88% - that won't be around after November. Construction rates go up, material costs go will be WAY over 14 mill now.

Thanks, guys...

Everybody's Budget

June 26, 2012 by rafterrat (not verified), 3 years 9 weeks ago
Comment: 626

Sweetwater Sam,
This won't just hit the county's budget. Think what it will do to Sweetwater and Roscoe's budget when they start paying all that overtime to pay their police to run up and down the interstate transporting prisoners instead of being on patrol. Our taxes are headed through the roof.

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