Hopkins County to pursue grant for new jail facility

Sulphur Springs – Hopkins County is looking to grant dollars to help fund a new jail, which would not only limit jail overcrowding but get them back into the good graces of the State.

The County's current facility has been in non-compliance with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, due to its aging infrastructure and inability to consistently house all inmates in its 100 bed unit.

During Thursday's meeting of the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Judge Cletus Millsap plans to seek approval of a grant application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the amount of $17 million to build a new jail.

The grant would require a 25 percent match of over $4 million from Hopkins County taxpayers. And following a feasibility study, Millsap says this would be the most cost-effective route to take, after the study found that renovating the facility would cost over $10 million.

"When you start adding this up, keeping an old facility is like putting a band-aid on a bad problem," said Millsap. "So what we're looking at doing is seeking other ways to come up with money so that we can construct a new facility and then get this input of a grant so that it wouldn't hit the taxpayers that hard."

If the public agrees to its end of the funding, coupled with the grant, crews look to construct a 195 bed unit.

The extra-bed unit would also allow for more female inmates. Currently, the threshold is 15.

While Hopkins County Jail is not currently overcapacity, they do have agreements with Franklin and Rains counties to house any additional inmates in their facilities. Doing so costs Hopkins County $40 per inmate per day.

There are three proposed sites for a new jail; one within the Sulphur Springs city limits, and two just outside the city.

Thursday's meeting of the Ark-Tex Council of Governments begins at 10 a.m. in Omaha, TX.