Commissioners to send letter of intent to use loan for new jail

By Audrey Spencer

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE - After voting against starting the construction of a new jail, Coryell County commissioners agreed not to refuse federal money that could pay for it.

Residents voted last November in support of a $18.8 million bond issue to fund the building of a new law enforcement center in Gatesville, but county commissioners voted on April 9 not to proceed with construction because no county funds were set aside for the project.

County Judge John Firth announced at Monday's meeting he had received a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting a written update on actions the county is taking regarding a $21 million loan reserved for Coryell County.

Firth said he saw three options for the court: Do nothing, which would result in the loan money being withdrawn; use the funds next year; or use local establishments to fund the construction.

"The money is good for five years, but we're required to sign a letter of intent to move forward," said Firth.

Commissioner Justin Latham made a motion to inform the USDA that the county intends to act on the funds within one year. The rest of the court agreed.

As of Monday morning, 30 Coryell County prisoners were being housed out-of-county.

Three county residents asked the court to re-think its decision to postpone construction of the jail, and consider resident and law-enforcement dilemmas.

"We think you have failed us tremendously, and we don't understand how you can make this decision," said Donna Taylor, a Copperas Cove resident, to the court.

The court also:

Approved interlocal agreements with McLennan and Limestone counties to hold inmates that Coryell County cannot house.

Approved a proclamation declaring May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

Contact Audrey Spencer at or (254) 501-7476.

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