NEWTON, Texas — Polls have opened for early voting in Newton County and officials are asking for $12 million to renovate and re-open the old Newton County Correctional Facility.
The county is planning to renovate the detention center on Highway 87 and turn it into a county jail and law enforcement center. This would include a sheriff’s office and a county emergency operations system.
“It will become the Newton County Law Enforcement Center, as well as the justice center,” Newton County District Attorney Courtney Ponchier said.
County officials said the county is proposing a new jail because the current one can only hold 12 inmates. When the jail maxes out, it costs the county $300,000 to transport inmates to other counties.
If voters vote yes to the bond proposal, the new facility could house up to 96 inmates.
“We would be housing our own inmates here, and then having the justice center next door would allow us to have court, and other functions that go along with law enforcement, right there next door,” Ponchier said.
The plan is for the facility to streamline court affairs. The main building would house the sheriff’s office, the district attorney, the district clerk and a court room.
Even though the project is set to be a multi-million dollar one, officials said a new jail will save taxpayers money.
“If the bond is ever paid off early, or, you know, if values go up and more revenue comes in and we're able to pay it off, that tax will go away,” Ponchier said. “It won't stay increased forever. It's a special designating tax, only for that bond.”
Some members of the Newton community feel the new jail will be worth the money and will be a positive addition to their community.
“I don’t think it makes a difference, with inflation and everything going up. I think that it would kind of balance it out, in one way or another," a Newton County community member said.
"It’s going to bring jobs to our community. There’s not many jobs here. There only a couple markets, fast food," another community member said.
Newton County is having the last public meeting over the bond election Monday night at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center.
Early voting starts Monday at the County Clerk’s Office and the Deweyville Sub Courthouse. Voting will end November 2.