WASHINGTON, BEAUFORT COUNTY - After years of problems and debate, plans for a new Beaufort County jail might soon be finalized. The Beaufort County jail committee met on Wednesday afternoon, to discuss plans for locating the new jail at the Chocowinity Industrial Park along U.S. 17 South.
Chairman Jerry Langley said the land is county owned and wouldn't cost as much as other locations.
"I'm hoping we can move rather quickly, quickly as possible without being hasty to get this resolved because the current jail we have is just a temporary fix," he said.
No vote was made at the meeting, but Langely said the board has ruled out other options and is mainly focusing on the Chocowinity property. Committee members spoke publicly with architects about the land, size and cost.
Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan said he is happy with the possible choice. He said the old jail was built in the early 1970's and it's time for a change.
"As far as I'm concerned unless someone can bring up some issues that haven't been revealed so far, it's a very good option to consider," he said.
Nearly three months ago the current jail lost power, and 67 inmates were relocated to other facilities. Sheriff Jordan said he expects the inmates to be transported back to the jail next week.
"That caused us to spend a lot of extra money and a lot of extra time, and also a lot of extra risk when you're moving prisoners so far," he explained.
Sheriff Jordan said over the past weeks they've tried taking care of maintenance issues and electrical problems inside the jail.
"We still have onward problems with the plumbing and of course addressing the issue that brought all of this about in the first place by getting a supplementary generator installed," he said.
Sheriff Jordan said until the new jail is finished there is a possibility the current jail could have problems again. He said although they have made a lot of changes in the past weeks, it is still not up to the standards a jail should meet.
Langley says he is hopeful a final decision should be announced soon.
"I'm hoping in the next two or three years we will be moving to the new facility," he said.
The Chocowinity Industrial Park was not the first option for the new jail. Committee members said they were first considering Beaufort Washington Industrial Park off Highway 264, or right behind the Beaufort County Court House.