By Al Showers
BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Work is about to begin on a new jail in Hancock County. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the old jail facility in downtown Bay St. Louis.
The 100,000 square foot complex will actually house three county law enforcement operations, including the jail, Justice Court, and the Sheriff's Department. Central dispatch will be part of that, as well as a medical clinic.
"It's going to allow us to take prisoners from the protection of jail, keep them secure to get them to Justice Court and back," Project Manager Mickey LaGasse said. "So it's going to cut down tremendously on the amount of transportation issues we've had with the county inmates in the past."
The 300 bed facility will be located on the 52 acre track of land off of Highway 90 near Bayou LaCroix Road. It will have the latest in security features.
"Visitors will not be allowed any longer to have a touching visitation. So they'll be able to be seen through glass or on TV screens. It won't be face to face visitation any longer, which will cut down on the amount of contraband, of course, that can get into the facility," LaGasse said.
He said it will be a no frills facility that meets Justice Department standards.
"It's not going to be anywhere close to the Hilton for the people who are there. However, we are doing it so it will last the county better than 20 years."
Bids are expected to go out for the ground work late in February.
"I'm happy to say that we not only received the Corps permit this week, the final Corps permit, we also bought the land. So the process has started."
It should take about two years to complete the facility. The $40 million project is being funded through Community Development Block Grant Money from The Mississippi Development Authority.