published Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Bradley delays action on workhouse

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—A county workhouse sounds like a good idea, but not this year, according to some Bradley County commissioners.

The proposal, first made several weeks ago to the County Commission’s Law Enforcement Committee, was back Wednesday before the Finance Committee.

Rich Kienlen, director of the county’s Misdemeanor Probation Program, asked the Finance Committee to consider allowing his department to set aside money each year in a contingency fund for future growth.

“If they do build a workhouse, we would like to be included in that space,” he told the committee.

The Misdemeanor Probation Program, he said, is related to the County Justice Center and not the downtown courthouse where the office is located.

The Misdemeanor Probation Advisory Board suggested setting aside at least $10,000 a year toward that space. The program is entirely paid for by probationers, Kienlen said, collecting revenue in excess of its budget. That excess is returned to the county general fund each year. The proposal would allow the $10,000 to come from that excess.

A county workhouse committee was formed but never met, said Commissioner Ed Elkins, who was appointed as a member.

The Law Enforcement Committee heard a proposal for a lease agreement with a private company for a barracks-style prefabricated building at the justice center.

“A workhouse is something we need to seriously consider,” Elkins said.

Such a facility would provide space for misdemeanor probation offenders who mostly are outside but need jail space, too, commissioners said. A workhouse could answer the need to build more jail space, they said.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Connie Wilson said more information is needed about how the proposal would affect other fee offices.

But the committee agreed with Commissioner Mel Griffith that the idea should be brought back next year.

“The main thing I wanted to do was get the conversation started,” Kienlen said.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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