Citizens of Graham voiced their opinion about the current situation of the old jail building at 502 Second St. Thursday.
The building, which hasn't been used as a jail since January 2007, has been a storage facility for most county departments, containing lawn equipment and tools, furniture, electronics and files.
The building contains jail cells, offices and a kitchen. The roof has a leak, and some of the floor drains show where sewage backup has occurred.
The building could be useful to the courthouse since many county offices are running our of space to store their files. Young County Judge John Bullock has proposed that the county spend $177,000 for repair and use of the old jail building. Of the proposed $177,000 budgeted, $160,000 would be used for repairs with the bulk of that going to repair the roof.
Bullock's plan calls for the cells to be used as storage and the office space as offices for county workers. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jimmy Wiley said he'd like to see it levelled and the area made into a park.
The estimated cost of replacing the building would be between $780,000 to $960,000.
Citizens were asked their opinions about what should be done with the building, and most agreed that it should be repaired and used by the county.
“I've heard a lot of bad things about it,” said Billy Gray. “I think the biggest problem is the roof problem. If they'd hire a good roofing company, they could fix it. That's the first thing they need to do. Everything costs so much now. It's pitiful. What you get in its place is usually a bunch of junk, so it's hard to say.”
Ed Antle offered a quick opinion as he was headed back to his vehicle Thursday morning.
“I would say that they should repair it,” he said.
Young County Constable Tommy Martin said action should be taken on the building.
“Something needs to be done with it,” he said. “They're using it for storage right now. It could probably be fixed up pretty decent for county offices and a storage area. Whatever they do to it will cost taxpayer funds.”
Alice Day said she thinks it's important to get the best results for the money.
“It depends on where the money is coming from,” Day said. “If it's not an immediate need, then you don't have to spend as much. If it's an immediate need, then it seems like a waste of $160,000 if you're going to eventually have to rebuild it. It's like putting duct tape on a shoe.”
Kem and Jackie Dears said the building should be repaired.
“They should repair it — there's no if, ands or buts about it,” Kem said. “When we got the new jail, it was a mess from the beginning. It's better to do repairs.”
Greg Cortez said, “(They should) probably restore it. It saves my tax dollars and that would be the sensible thing.”
Leslie Causey, who moved to Graham from Fort Worth three months ago, said the building is a part of Graham and shouldn't be demolished.
“I think they should repair it, and keep the original buildings in this town,” she said. “It's such a pretty town. (They should) definitely (be) repairing it and not tearing it down.”
Samantha Bliss is par for the “repair it” course.
“It will save a lot of money,” she said.
Graham Police Chief Tony Widner also said the old jail building should be utilized.
“One of the possibilities is I think it could be used for is a juvenile detention facility,” Widner said. “It's already a confinement facility, but it would have to be refurbished to house juveniles the way it has to be required. There's a shortage of those in the state and right now — you have to take them to Granbury, Wichita Falls or Post. Usually we end up going to Post. Either that or an independent dispatch, a 9-1-1 center.”
The County Commissioners will make a decision on whether or not funds will be budgeted to repair the building in late August.