WATCH town hall meeting on Habersham’s proposed jail bond referendum [VIDEO]

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell makes a presentation during a recent town hall meeting on the county’s Nov. 5 jail bond referendum. (Daniel Purcell/Now Habersham)

People gathered at the Cornelia Community House on Monday, September 30, 2019, to learn more about Habersham County’s proposed jail bond referendum. The two-hour long meeting was the first of two town halls scheduled by county commissioners ahead of the vote on November 5.

Now Habersham recorded the meeting. Watch it below or on the Now Habersham YouTube channel.

If you would like to hear the presentations in person and ask questions, you have at least two more chances.

The Habersham County Democratic Party will hold a public informational meeting with the sheriff, county manager, and other officials to discuss the jail bond referendum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 8, at the Cornelia Library.

The Habersham County Commission will host a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, at the Habersham County Administration Building in Clarkesville.

Skip to the highlights

If you wish to skip ahead in the town hall video recorded by Now Habersham, here are some key points and the times they appear:

  • Sheriff Joey Terrell presentation 2:12-48:11
  • Habersham County Manager Phil Sutton answers “Why not put it on SPLOST?” 48:12-50:30
  • Habersham County Commission Chair Stacy Hall responds to “Who decided to put this on the ballot?”  50:50-54:58
  • Sutton answers “Is there a reason why you can’t have another SPLOST?” 54:59-55:20
  • Sutton responds to former GOP Chair Carl Blackburn’s comments about hospital bonds. 55:21- 58-52
  • Sutton on how much it will cost county property owners if the bond referendum is approved. He says the cost to the ‘average’ homeowner is $71 per year based on an ‘average’ home price of $135,000. 58:53-1:00:11
  • Sutton and Crawford respond to comments regarding inmate population projections. 1:07:00-1:09:36
  • Sheriff Terrell outlines federal requirements to classify inmates and says the county is not in compliance. 1:09:37- 1:12:30
  • Sheriff Terrell says, “We are violating people’s rights of privacy.” Warns of potential lawsuits. 1:12:31-1:15:20
  • The county’s proposal is for a 314-bed jail that can be expanded to 504 beds, exceeding the current inmate population. Sheriff Terrell responds to the question “Will these empty cells be hired out by other counties?” 1:15:21-1:16:46
  • Sheriff Terrell says additional personnel will not be required to run the new jail unless the inmate population reaches 225 or more. 1:16:47-1:17:20
  • Discussion on historical trends of the jail inmate population and expanding courts to alleviate jail overcrowding. 1:17:21-1:26:24
  • Commissioner Crawford responds to concerns about county spending and poor planning. She says, “There have been lots of mistakes prior to the iteration of the [county] commission that’s in place right now.”  1:26:27-1:30:12
  • Discussion of accountability of elected officials 1:30:14-1:32:17
  • Commissioner Hall responds to “Why can a separate SPLOST not pay for it [jail]?” 1:32:18-1:33:28
  • Sheriff Terrell talks about what happens if the jail bond referendum doesn’t pass. 1:34:52-1:36:55
  • Sheriff Terrell talks about other public safety needs; says in 2020 the county’s public safety radio system will be obsolete. 1:36:13-1:37:16
  • Sheriff Terrell responds to question about whether the proposed jail will incorporate environmentally sound practices into proposed jail. 1:38:55-1:40:09
  • Sheriff Terrell says the proposed jail would include a classroom where inmates could learn life skills. 1:40:10-1:42:46
  • Sheriff Terrell says “Hall County’s coming this way.” 1:42:48-1:44:24
  • Sheriff Terrell says if the referendum doesn’t pass “We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing,” but adds he worries about potential lawsuits. 1:48:04-1:49:11
  • An audience member says the county is living off the backs of the property owners and needs to do more to bring in industry. 1:49:13-1:50:00
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