Jail issues nothing new

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 09:27 AM.

Dollars and liability have been a focus for recent debate among county commissioners concerning the Gulf County Jail.

That debate has echoed one of a decade ago.

The Board of County Commissioners currently oversees the jail largely due to events of roughly 10 years past. Then, former Gulf County Sheriff Dalton Upchurch, after a series of acrimonious Board of County Commissioners meetings, ceremoniously turned over the keys to the jail to the BOCC.

Upchurch waged a public campaign seeking funding to address maintenance deficiencies, in particular leaky roof and exterior walls.

Upchurch called the jail a “lawsuit waiting to happen” and finally decided he was not willing to accept the liability of operating the jail without the dollars to fix problems.

Ten years later the BOCC has invested several thousand dollars to improve the footprint of the aging jail and have reduced the operating budget.

Commissioners praise jail administrator Michael Hammond for consistently returning a portion of his annual budget to the general fund and have taken a decidedly hands-off approach to Hammond’s supervision.

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