Large Crowd attends OC Jail Meeting

Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw met with over 250 residents  Tuesday night at the Walhalla Depot to present his plan for a new detention facility. The facility would be built in a location between the current law enforcement center and West View Cemetery. The facility that Sheriff Crenshaw proposes would be a two-story new housing pod, which would contain the part of the detention center that houses 192 beds, plus, a support building that would contain the laundry and kitchen areas. “The Department of Corrections has been up and cited some deficiencies with the current jail,” according to Sheriff Crenshaw. “It is not current with today’s standards, and they have been to County Council and I think they have addressed it there.” Oconee County Council had asked Sheriff Crenshaw upon his becoming Sheriff to come up with a plan for a new detention facility. The county bought some property on Pine Street, according to Sheriff Crenshaw, which he had the architects to take a look at. The architects informed the Sheriff that they could build about a 162 bed facility on the new property. However, there was no room to expand on that property, according to the Sheriff, at a cost of somewhere near $17 million. The current detention facility houses 122 beds. The original plan was to put the new detention facility on the left side of the current Law Enforcement Center, but the right side presents a more viable option, according to the Sheriff, due partly to the fact that the jail administration is housed in the current Law Enforcement Center. Sheriff Crenshaw said that this plan would fit into his budget of $15.7 million dollars that he has to work with. The current detention center would not be torn down, but would be used to house records for example. While some in the audience agreed with the plan, others disagreed with the Sheriff’s proposal, citing declining property values, noise, and the close location and safety concerns with the detention center being close to their property. Sheriff Crenshaw will be addressing the Walhalla City Council on April 19th at 5:30pm concerning his plans for a new detention facility. No final decision location for the new detention facility has been made. If the City votes down the plan, according to Sheriff Crenshaw, then a place outside the city limits of Walhalla would have to be looked at, which would cost more money than planned; including the fact that jail administration would have to be moved out.