Future jail plans bring frustration for Willard School District

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Survey teams walked a 23-acre plot in Greene County today, making sure the new jail will stand on solid ground. It's one of many steps left to go on the project, a plan in which a local school district hoped to have more input. But one law enforcement leader thinks the jail will benefit everyone.

While some, like Springfield's police chief, are pleased with the announcement of a location for the future jail, others, like the Willard School district wish they'd been kept in the loop.

Today, the Greene County environmental division is getting a good look underneath the alfalfa field at Highway EE and Hazeltine Road.
"We just want to make sure we don't have voids that would show a potential sinkhole opening up," says Greene County geologist Matt Forir.

They've already examined the plot of land, but today, are taking a closer look. "As of yet, we've found nothing that's really alarming to us. Not even close," Forir says.

The county's announcement that it plans to build a new jail on the site comes as good news for Springfield's Police Chief. "I'm excited that they finally made a decision and we know where it's going to be and what it's going to be," says Chief Paul Williams.

The site is not in central Springfield like the current jail, but Chief Williams says that's ok. "I'm thankful it's as close to the city as it is," Williams says.

It's also close to Willard South Elementary, just over a mile away on Highway EE. But the district knew nothing until last week. "I think our biggest frustration is not being in on it from the ground up and having conversations about what this could mean," says Willard Schools Superintendent Matt Teeter.

Teeter says the county officials met with them to discuss their concerns. The biggest is foot traffic when inmates are released from jail. County staff say they're working on a transportation plan for those who don't get picked up. Teeter can see some positives, in having deputies so closeby.

"So at this point, we're trying to make it the biggest win possible for our district and try to see how we can partner with our county with that," Teeter says.

Chief Williams says the biggest benefit will be having space to keep people like car thieves and home burglars, who are now booked and released, locked up.

Williams says, "Those are the ones that I think will have the biggest impact on the quality of life here in the city, if we can get those people off the streets."

The county hopes to close on the land with SCI Missouri Funeral Services for about $680,000 in the next month or two.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.