VALDOSTA -- Two groups looking for answers about the Lowndes County Jail will have to wait two weeks to get them.

Members of The People's Tribunal and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People attended Tuesday's Lowndes County Commission meeting to discuss the jail situation.

On July 28, sheriff's Capt. J.D. Yeager informed the Board that the failure to build a new jail exposes the county to enormous legal liability, given conditions "bordering on inhumane and unsanitary levels" at the facility, parts of which are 40 years old.

The Rev. Floyd Rose, representing the People's Tribunal, requested a minimum of 20 minutes for concerned residents to speak under the Board's public participation portion of the agenda. County Manager Joe Pritchard said Commissioners offered Rose time at the end of the meeting, given the nine public hearings on the agenda. A scheduling conflict prevented Rose from remaining until that time.

Instead, the Board offered to hear concerns about the jail at its Aug. 25 work session.

Rose said he and others will present some ideas about the jail at that meeting, while also showing excerpts from "A Chorus of Fear," a film made through Valdosta State University's anthropology department in the wake of Willie James Williams' death.

"I would have preferred to do it tonight, but given that this is an important issue, I would rather delay the presentation if we are given adequate time," he said.

County Manager Joe Pritchard later gave the Board a status report on the jail situation, saying that the future of the facility is being studied, including "a complete analysis of the facility for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, medical, kitchen and other issues related to conditions and safety."

Yeager estimated that a new jail would costs at least $15 million. A renovation of the facility would cost nearly as much. The county dedicated $6 million from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues for jail renovations. That will barely cover the cost of plumbing repairs, Yeager said.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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