Site chosen for new county jail

Friday, September 18, 2015
Tammy Helm/Tribune photo This view looking north from Jayhawk Road east of U.S. Highway 69, show the location where the new Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center will be constructed. Commissioners signed a contract -- with contingencies -- to purchase the property Thursday.

The search for a site for a new county jail has come to an end.

Bourbon County commissioners during a special meeting Thursday afternoon signed a contract to purchase property for a new jail.

The agreement between the county and the administrator of the Emory Arnold Trust is for the purchase of 13.7 acres located north of Jayhawk Road and west of Liberty Bell Road. The purchase price is $195,000, which commissioners said was the asking price.

The seller had already signed the contract.

"It has sewage, electrical and hopefully it's going to be an ideal site for our site for our Bourbon County Law Enforcement center," Commission Chair Albright told the Tribune.

"It's important to know we're going to have access out onto Liberty Bell Road," Albright said. "We know we have access on Jayhawk, but we want to have access both on the east and the south side of this property.

"It lays nice. We kind of eyed it for quite a while. There'd been a sign for a quite a while and we worked with a local real estate agency that had it listed."

The agency that worked on the deal was Stewart Realty of Fort Scott.

During Thursday's meeting, County Counselor Justin Meeks said commissioners gave him the authorization during an executive meeting to make an inquiry about property for the jail.

"Obviously I've done some due diligence," Meeks said. "There have been some contingencies the commissioners gave me in regards to this property."

Those contingencies, which are included in the contract, are that the land is environmentally safe and the property will be annexed into the city of Fort Scott.

By state statute, county jails must be located within the city limits of the county seat.

"We've kept the city informed of possible locations," Albright said.

Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said there have been positive discussions with the county about the location of the jail.

The next step is for City Attorney Bob Farmer and Meeks to begin working together on the annexation process. Annexing the property into the city limits also has to be approved by the city commission.

"From the city's perspective, it sounds like a good location," Martin said. "The city will be glad to work with the county on the annexation."

During Thursday's meeting, Albright said she spoke with Goldberg and was told the environmental study would be "minimal."

"If any of these contingencies (don't pan out), voids the contract?" Third District Harold Coleman asked.

"It voids the contract or it can be renegotiated," Meeks said. "I think with the architect, the contractor, the sheriff, I think this is the land. And really, if you look at the topography of the land, it's a beautiful piece of property for this."