By Alex Bridges
MOUNT JACKSON -- Shenandoah County town leaders remain cautiously optimistic that officials may use the local jail as a lock-up when the regional facility opens next year.
Mount Jackson Town Council at its regular meeting Tuesday approved a letter to Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors Chairman Conrad Helsley. Vice Mayor Kay Whetzel and Councilmen Rod Shepherd, Kenneth Hackenbracht and Todd Holtzman attended the meeting. They approved the letter as part of council's consent agenda.
Mayor Joseph Williams and Councilmen Donald I. "Donnie" Pifer and Dennis L. Andrick did not attend the meeting.
The letter states that town leaders expressed appreciation at the board's "willingness to give further consideration to the prisoner booking and transportation issue that faces all the law enforcement agencies in the county."
Police officers in most of the county's towns face longer drives for transporting prisoners to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on U.S. 340-522 north of Front Royal. Shenandoah County leaders are mulling whether or not to turn the current jail in Woodstock into a temporary lock-up facility for prisoners. A recent study of the county Sheriff's Office recommends the closing of the local jail and puts the cost of running a local lock-up facility at a greater cost than Sheriff Timothy C. Carter estimates.
At a recent work session of the Board of Supervisors, members agreed to continue the discussion about a local lock-up and to involve town leaders and police departments in the process.
But concern remains over the fact that transporting a prisoner out of the county means one less police officer patrolling the towns' streets.
"All the elected officials throughout the county are constantly pressured for additional law enforcement patrol services," the letter states. "Our citizens want to see the officers patrolling and assisting regularly and effectively."
Mount Jackson leaders note in the letter that they appreciate the fact the county plans to discuss this issue.
"Rather than press for any specific approach in this letter, we pledge to work in concert with you and the other jurisdictions to find an economical, practical way to keep the patrol officers on the street and minimize the amount of time, expense and risk to public safety in individual transport and booking at a distant location."
Also at the meeting, Town Council:
• Held a public hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. No one spoke during the hearing. Likewise, no one spoke at public hearings held on a resolution to amend to the current fiscal budget and on the approval of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission's 2012 Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan is required if the municipality seeks disaster relief aid from the federal government.
• Appointed Nancy Fadely to the Board of Zoning Appeals as the Planning Commission representative
• Approved a special-use permit to Valley Building Supply to operate a contractor's equipment and storage yard, as well as accessory office space, at 124 Center St.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com