No problems at Dallas County jail

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 26, 2006

The Selma-Times Journal

Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman again addressed complaints made by Faith Tabernacle Christian Center Pastor Betty Jemison concerning county jail conditions during Monday afternoon’s commission meeting.

On June 12, Jemison stood before the county commission to speak of the jail’s rodents, overall cleanliness and inmate medical care. On June 13, Huffman and Jemison held a meeting to further discuss her concerns. Huffman was happy to report Monday that the jail has earned a score of 90 out of 100 after a health department inspection – a score “that’s better than some restaurants in Selma.” The inspection also took place June 13.

“The inmates are being taken care of,” Huffman told county commissioners. “Believe you me.”

At the previous commission meeting, Jemison suggested hiring another extermination company for the jail, citing current exterminators are not fulfilling their job. Huffman said the jail hired its current exterminator just two months ago and has no plans to look at other companies. Huffman later addressed Jemison’s criticism of grubby inmate showers and dirty laundry. The sheriff said it’s ultimately the inmates’ responsibility to keep showers clean and noted the inmates’ laundry is cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

On issues of medical care, Huffman said a doctor visits the jail once a week and has a registered nurse on call. Jemison revealed to the commission she had to pay for an inmates’ tooth extraction because the county failed to do so. Huffman vowed to look into the problem and reported to the commission that only one area dentist has agreed to serve inmates and must be paid up front. Dentists that refused to serve inmates are wary of liability issues, Huffman said.

In other business:

The commission unanimously approved county tax collector Tammy Jones King’s request to submit the county’s 2005 tax reports to Montgomery.

The commission unanimously approved county tax assessor Frances S. Hughes’ request to hire a contractor to handle the county’s mapping and global positioning system.

The commission unanimously approved a state amendment relating to the compensation of supernumerary ad valorem tax officials “to provide for future cost-of-living increases in compensation equal to and on the same terms and conditions as increases in compensation of other county retirees, when granted by county commissions.” Retired county supernumerary tax official Dale Curry, who stepped down after 18 years of service, shall receive 75 percent of the average compensation, but will not receive more than $49,600 per year.

The commission unanimously approved an Aug. 7 sales tax holiday, which will save shoppers additional money on back-to-school supplies. The tax holiday was recently approved by the state.

The commission unanimously approved a legal services invoice of $154.17.

County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Brett Howard updated the commission on its Hazardous Material Emergency Planning grant. Grant monies are being use to train employees, who are currently determining how many 18-wheelers travel on area roads daily. Areas being tested are U.S. Highway 80 and Alabama Highway 41, Alabama Highway 14 and the bypass, and Alabama Highway 14 and U.S. Highway 80 West.

The EMA also received a $55,161 grant that will be used to perform a homeland security exercise with Emergency Response Training Inc. (ERTS), which is based at Auburn University. The Selma Fire Department, the Selma Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department will all take part in the exercise.

Howard reported the happenings of a meeting EMA officials held with community faith leaders June 20 concerning hurricane preparedness. Twenty-five churches were represented at the meeting, which was held to divide severe weather responsibilities among area houses of worship. Howard said church representatives that weren’t able to attend last week’s meeting still have am opportunity to contribute.

The EMA is applying for a grant for Citizen’s Corp. to jump-start a neighborhood watch programs in Selma’s Old Town District and possibly surrounding communities. The EMA is also applying for a $22,500 to update its Hazardous Materials plan.