Republicans drill down on new jail

Published 8:13 pm Monday, January 28, 2013

In a new location, in a new year, the Beaufort County Republican Club’s first meeting of 2013 touched on both old and new issues.

According to Larry Britt, past chairman of the club, over 40 members and guests met at Blackbeard’s Restaurant last Thursday to hear featured speakers Craven County Commissioner, Steve Tyson, and retired Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Harry Meredith.

Tyson spoke about the year and a half long process of building a new county jail and what had been learned, both positive and negative: how hiring a construction management firm saved the county thousands of dollars and allowed the jail to be finished under budget and ahead of schedule; how the county paid for 292 bed, $32 million-dollar jail with a certificate of participation, at less cost than a bond; and that their regret was not having included input from city police and local lawyers in the decision-making process, said Britt.

Meredith gave detailed explanation of operating costs of medical treatment, staffing for female and male separation and transporting inmates, according to Britt.

The subject of federal prisoners being housed at county facilities was discussed, as it is one option mentioned as a potential way to defray operating costs of a new jail in Beaufort County.

“There was some give and take about the pluses and the minuses,” Britt said. “Once you take in federal prisoners, you have a lot more regulation you have to be mindful of.”

Britt said the general consensus at the meeting was that a new Beaufort County Detention Center should “only be as big as it needs to be.”

Meredith took the opportunity, when asked, to announce to the club that he will be running for the office of sheriff in the 2014 election, as Sheriff Alan Jordan will be stepping down, Britt said.

Jordan confirmed Monday that he will not seek a fifth term as sheriff.

The Beaufort County Republican Club will hold a town hall-style meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 21. U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones will be present to answer questions regarding the nation’s “fiscal cliff.”