County prepares to open jail annex this month
By LPR Staff
Dozens of inmates being housed in area jails should soon be returning to Caldwell County.
Sheriff Daniel Law announced on Monday that construction of the Caldwell County Jail Annex is nearly complete, and the 48-man structure should be ready to house inmates this month.
“They”re putting the finishing touches on the
building now,” Law told the Commissioners Court during this week”s meeting. “As soon as I get it staffed, we”ll be ready to bring as many [inmates] back as we can.”
The County presently houses several inmates in surrounding counties in an effort to relieve overcrowding at the Caldwell County Jail. However, the service costs upwards of $50,000 per month, and as other jail populations continue to grow, beds for county inmates are becoming sparse.
“Comal County is telling us every time we go pick someone up for court or to go to the doctor that we can”t bring them back,” Law said. “They”re out of room, too, so we”re looking for other avenues.”
Law plans to use existing jailers to staff the annex, and will fill the positions inside the jail with outside candidates. However, he noted that there have been hurdles in the hiring process.
“It”s a problem that we”ve always had, but a problem that everyone has in [Caldwell County”s] position,” he said. “They look around and see that we pay less than the other counties in the area, and less than even some counties in the Valley. We”re having a hard time getting people to come.”
Law pledged to continue searching for qualified staff, and hopes to have an inmate population moved into the jail annex within the next few weeks.
In other Court business, the Commissioners approved a bid for a series of roof repairs in connection with last spring”s hail storms.
Last month, the Commissioners accepted a contract with Jim Whitten Roof Consultants to search for bids to repair nine county buildings. After reviewing the bids, Whitten, along with architect Robert D. Egan, recommended a contract with L.D. Tebben Co., Inc., and Austin-based contractor, to perform the repairs.
The Commissioners accepted the recommendation under the condition that the county”s insurance pays for the entirety of the repairs.
“It is not our intention to spend any money except the insurance money,” noted County Judge H.T. Wright. “If for some reason we do not receive the funds to meet the bid, we will want to go back and renegotiate with the contractor.”
In preparation for the Nov. 7 election, the court approved 26 polling places at the request of election coordinator Mary Vicky Gonzales. The only change from past polling places pertains to Box 101, which is traditionally located in the Lockhart High School Library. This year, because of prior commitments in the library, the voting booth will be located in the new gymnasium.
In brief Court news:
The Court heard a request from the Uhland Volunteer Fire Department to be included with the currently-existing Chisholm Trail Fire-Rescue, which is petitioning to become an emergency service district. Personnel, finance and equipment troubles have left the Uhland VFD all but defunct in recent weeks. The Commissioners did not approve the suggestion immediately, pending further discussion with CT FR and the City of Uhland.
The panel entered into a contract with accountant Wayne R. Beyer, who will perform a fiscal audit for the County this year.
They agreed to support the City of Martindale in a quest to apply for Federal grants to assist in the construction of a city park in Martindale. The park is proposed off FM 1979 on the banks of the San Marcos River.
On Nov. 13, at 9:30 a.m., the Commissioners Court will hold a public hearing to discuss the formation of a new taxing entity, Emergency Services District One, in central Caldwell County. The proposal is being brought forth by the Mid-County and McMahan Volunteer Fire Departments.
On a recommendation from Emergency Services Coordinator Jim Parker, the Court opted to leave an outdoor burning ban in place, despite forecasts predicting rain later this week and through the weekend.
Wright read a proclamation declaring October “Czech Heritage Month.”
The County paid bills in the amount of $244,665.36, including $21,885 in indigent legal defense and $175,512 in costs related to the construction of the Caldwell County Jail Annex.
The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. Meetings are open to the public and citizens are encouraged to attend.