Building Relationships talking about New Jail

During the last nine months, Oconee County leaders have been in discussions with officials from the City of Walhalla on where to locate a new detention center.  The Oconee County Council postponed talks until after the November elections to include the new sheriff.  Oconee County Administrator Scott Moulder updates plans for a new detention center in the county.  “We are still continuing those discussions.  I have been working with the new sheriff, Mike Crenshaw, and we have been working with his new staff.  We have been working with the Mayor continuously; we think we are getting close to having an opportunity to develop a solution.  We have bought some property, that is an opportunity for us and we are still looking at that opportunity.” Back in July, Oconee County purchased 23.3 acres about a quarter mile from the present detention center as a possible site for a new jail.  However, the Walhalla Board of Zoning Appeals denied the county a variance that would have allowed construction of an $18.6 million, 292-bed detention center on the South Church Street site after nearby residents raised concerns about potential noise and safety issues. The Board also said that the plans for the jail did not allow for adequate parking according to the city’s building code requirements.  Despite that, discussions between the county and city have been positive, adds Moulder. “Over the last six to nine months, this has really given us an opportunity to sit down with the community leaders, not only Walhalla but Seneca and Westminster, but we have been able to sit down with the community leaders of Walhalla and start a discussion about this detention center.  If there is a silver lining in this whole thing, we were able to start building relationships with that other community that is very critical for the entire county as we move forward on many other issues.” Discussions on where to locate the new detention center will continue until a solution is reached, hopefully sooner rather than later as the current detention center is overcrowded and in need of renovations.