Okmulgee Votes Tuesday On A Half Cent Sales Tax

Saturday, November 6th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Some local leaders say its time to retire a relic of a jail they call dangerous and outdated. Okmulgee county's had the same jail since 1917. Officials say it's time for a new one but for that to happen voters have to say yes to a hike in the sales tax.

It's housed thousands of criminals in its 82 years it's seen dozens of inmates escape and people in Okmulgee say recently too many have broken out of the old Okmulgee County Jail. Some folks say it's time for a new jail, built for today's criminals.

"When you are thinking of your children's safety or family we need one to keep the criminals out of jail," says Charlotte Waddle, Okmulgee.

Sheriff Paul Lindemann says when the jail was built, it wasn't considered dangerous to put the cells near large windows.

"In 1917 what did you have, some rustlers, some town drunks , not a lot of crime," says Lindemann.

Lindemann says one reason he would like a new jail is so he could keep the worst inmates away from each other. County leaders say for safety reasons alone voters should approve a half cent sales tax. The 8.2 million dollars raised over 20 years would cover the costs of a new jail.

"The taxes will be such a increase they will hurt people," says Anna Clark.

Although no opposition group has been formed, Anna Clark says there are several people wary of the project. Clark is a retired nurse who owns her own book store.

"They bring in books that they can exchange or they can buy them outright," says Clark.

Clark says she is for exchanging an old jail with a new one and she's always said yes to previous bond issues. But she questions the cost and thinks the jail should be smaller, they can add on later.

"I feel this one is too large, it's more like a prison," says Clark.

County leaders and some other folks in town say that if you are going to build a new jail, build one that will last well into the 21st century. The jail would be connected to the courthouse.

Okmulgee County voters head to the polls on Tuesday.