Madison County Mayor A.J. Massey has been on the job for six months now, and he showed his need and desire to continue to learn different parts of the job during a recent meeting.
The County Mayor is on the County Commission’s long-range planning committee, and four members – Massey, Commission Chairman Gary Deaton (Republican-District 4), Finance Director Karen Bell and Commissioner Arthur Johnson (R-District 6) – all met to give the committee its first meeting since last summer when Massey was still campaigning for his current job.
As the committee begins meeting regularly again with a current group of elected and appointed officials, one thing Massey – who was voted as the committee’s new chairman at the meeting – wanted to do was go over the committee’s priority list and update it.
“There were a few items on the list that we can take off – most notably a new Pope School,” Massey said. “Since that one is past the stage of ‘planning or wanting to happen’ to ‘designing.’
“And we wanted to take a look at the list, see if there’s anything we wanted to add and shuffle the priorities if that would be needed.”
One topic that was placed on the list in the last year or so that Massey moved up the list and discussed in detail at the meeting on Feb. 16 was the proposed new juvenile justice center Judge Christy Little has been pushing for.
Little has discussed in public meetings in the last couple years about building a new building to house juvenile court since the current building is in a constant state of repair as it’s an older building in East Jackson on the original Union University campus.
The plan is to have a building that doesn’t just have a courtroom but have all services needed for children in juvenile court including more beds to house those in juvenile detention and different services for families.
The county commission put together a committee in early 2022 to begin those discussions similar to the discussions that were had that led to the expansion of the Criminal Justice Complex – but those discussions haven’t gotten far since there’s not a location or building design yet, which means there’s no set required budget.
Massey did propose a possible option to be considered instead of building a new building.
R.E. Butts has a plot of land a few hundred yards from the current juvenile court building that is flat and would be an ideal spot for the facility, according to both Little and Massey. According to Little and Massey, Butts is willing to build the facility according to their design and lease it to the County.
“Just throwing a number out there, but if we were to sign a 50-year lease on the building, then I think that would be a good use of our financial resources to lease the space than to pay all the money the county would need to pay to purchase a plot of land and put a building on it that would begin to depreciate the day we move in there,” Massey said. “I’m not officially recommending it, but I just throw that idea out there to show you that we have options and we’re willing to think outside the box for – not just this – but anything on this list we deem a priority.”
Other priorities on the list included moving the County Commission into a permanent place of its own and figuring out where to put the election commission, which has since been solved.
Brandon Shields, email@example.com