Webster County to Get a New Jail

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 08/06 2014 06:07PM

Updated 08/06 2014 06:38PM

Marshfield, Mo. -- Webster County will be getting a new jail. On Tuesday, voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the jail with a majority vote of about 55-percent.

There were two parts to the proposal, one of which was a quarter-cent sales tax for construction of the jail, which passed with a majority vote of about 54.8-percent, and a "use tax" to fund the jail's operation, which did not pass.

Except for a few upgrades, the Webster County Jail looks and operates much like how it did more than 70 years ago.

"There's cords everywhere," said Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole.

But that's all about to change-- a majority of votes in favor of a countywide quarter-cent sales tax means a new jail for Webster County.

"It's a small community, so most people know somebody that's been in the jail. So they know it was bad," said Cole. "Most everybody knew the need."

Cole said overcrowding is an issue since the current jail can only house about 32 inmates.

"We're in Southwest Missouri, we're driving people to Central Missouri in Texas County or anywhere else we can house people. That's over a hundred thousand dollars in just boarding costs," said Cole.

The new jail could potentially bring in revenue.

"I would be in favor of building as big as we possible could because I would be in favor of bringing in inmates to our county and bringing in tax payer revenue from other counties to our county so our taxpayers don't have to pay for it," said Cole.

The new jail could hold potentially 126 inmates. One of the proposed sites for the new county jail is about 100 yards from the jail's current location at the county courthouse.

Cole said the jail will also bring justice to those who should be behind bars- but aren't.

"I don't think people realize the justice that's not being served because of so many people on probation," said Cole. "The only thing we can do as a community is we have a place to put people when they need to be in jail and we have not had that for decades."

Funding for a new jail has been a project in the works for several decades.

Cole said the new facility most likely won't be built until a few years. The next step is to figure out a design and a revenue stream for the jail.

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