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Need for justice center is real

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By Susan Sharp

In this season of giving, local elected officials should give the proposed justice center another thought.

Would it be an expensive undertaking to build the new offices and jail space? Would it mean that other capital outlay projects be tabled for few years? Yes.

But it would speak volumes as to how Campbell County addresses its problems.

If the intention of officials is to make Campbell County a tourist destination or an area where people want to move then it is time to take a step forward.

Part of a solid infrastructure is taking care of the problems in a community. In this community, like it or not, crime is a problem. The court dockets are packed, courtrooms offer close quarters for hearings and at the end of the day, there is still not enough room at the inn.

Nevertheless, let’s boil this down to simple terms: without enough jail space that means the guy who broke into your house, stole your television, jewelry, whatever, will not be appropriately punished. He will also be free to roam the streets and offend again. Moreover, statistics show us he will.

While probation officers strive to enforce the rules, the bottom line is some offenders need to be jailed. It is the only thing that will get their attention.

I understand the theory behind “If you build it they will come,” because no matter how many jail beds are added, more will always be needed. However, to not build a new jail because it still may not have enough beds is like saying we will not build roads because they will eventually need repairs.

But as I watch elected county officials it seems their radar is locked on one target- not raising property taxes. I know that I for one could accept an increase in property taxes if the money was going to improve the county. And I don’t mean putting a fresh coat of paint of buildings but truly improving schools and doing something about the number of offenders walking the streets.

Elected officials should start thinking beyond the next election cycle and what their platforms will be. They should look 10 years down the road into what this county could be if they make the tough choices now. Which is a better legacy- to say you were in office for a certain number of years or to have the county you so vehemently wanted to serve a better and safer place to live now and in the future?