BEAUFORT COUNTY -

The USDA told Beaufort County it will not provide funding for a new county jail until voters approve.

Jerry Langley, the chairman of the jail committee, said the price of the new county jail is unclear because the design is not finished. But the county could lose almost $20 million in funding if the USDA backs out.

Langley said the county would be forced to find alternative funding, which, he said would cost taxpayers much more money.

"They have the Stop the Jail Committee to thank for that," said Langley.

Beaufort County Sheriff candidates Al J. Whitney and Ernie Coleman weighed in.

"Is it an old jail? Yes. Is it not up the standards of modern day standards. Yes it's not up to standards. But, with the economy like it is like now we cannot afford it," said Coleman.

"I'll let the county commissioners make their decision about the jail.  It's not the responsibility of the sheriff to make a decision about the jail," said Whitney.

The new Beaufort County Jail would have 250 beds and a 25,000 square feet attachment that includes the Sheriff's Office, a 911 center and an emergency operations center. It would be located at an Industrial Park about 5 miles south of Chocowinity.

Langley said in a previous interview that the current jail is too dangerous. Recent floods and fires caused the jail to be evacuated.

The jail committee will gather on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in a meeting open to the public.