Beaufort County applies for USDA funding for new public safety facility

WASHINGTON, BEAUFORT COUNTY - Things got rowdy at the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.

The item on the agenda that got the most attention was the building of the new public safety complex-- a facility that would include the building of a new detention center.

On Monday night's meeting, officials held a public hearing on the financing of the project. Officials have applied for funding through the USDA. However, the funding for the two million dollar project won't be granted until the USDA completes its approval process. One of those USDA's requirements-- to have a public hearing.

Fifteen Beaufort County citizens signed up to share their thoughts on the USDA financing the project-- with the majority of the speakers against it.

This topic has garnered a lot of attention over the years as commissioners and law officials have stressed the importance of building a new jail.

Some issues officials cited as reasons for a new jail: the current one is outdated, there are issues with molding, the jail is overcrowded and the facility has a poor ventilation system.

Back in February, Beaufort County Commissioners voted in favor of building a new jail-- four were in favor and three were against.

Officials say there are many more steps that will be taken before the USDA will consider granting the funds to build the facility, and that the decision could be months from now.

Commissioners who are opposed to the facility being built, like Gary Brinn, say they are doing everything they can do to halt the process.

"We're intent on stopping that jail-- whether it's cutting the funding on it, or just on an out right vote and stop the progress on it," said Brinn.

Brinn said there could be as many as three new commissioners to be on the board after the November 2014 election. Brinn says this could change the board's stance on the matter, and the possible new board could vote to stop the building of the facility-- even if ground has already been broken.

No date of completion or date to start the construction has been determined. If the public safety facility is built, it will have 250 beds and a 25,000 square feet attachment that will include the Sheriff's Office, a 911 center and an emergency operations center. It will be located at the Chocowinity Industrial Park.

The project is expected to cost 20 million dollars.

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