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Grants help fund building project

Federal money for Jackson County's new Juvenile Justice Building means reduction in property tax payments

Property tax bills will drop next year because Jackson County received &

36;5.3 million in federal grants and other money that will pay off a portion of the &

36;16.5 million in bonds for the new Juvenile Justice building.

On a home with a maximum assessed value of &

36;150,000, the savings will be &

36;29.25, or 19.5 cents per thousand. Property owners will see a similar savings in 2006, followed by a slight increase in 2007 to continue paying off the 10-year bonds.

County commissioners are scheduled to approve the change to property tax bills this week, after the county received two sizable infusions of money recently.

Wal-Mart has agreed to pay the county &

36;8 million for the purchase of the Miles Field property and the aging 1950s-era juvenile building. Of this amount, &

36;1,169,000 will go toward the new building.

Another &

36;4,120,108 was received from the federal government to help expand the number of detention beds locally.

— County Administrator Sue Slack said the county had anticipated receiving the money when voters approved the bond measure in 2000.

The commissioners are keeping a promise to voters when they voted 'yes' on the measure, she said.

In 2008, property tax bills will see an increase that will depend on interest rates at the time. The bonds will be paid off in 2011.

A grand opening for the juvenile justice building will take place Sept. 28, and it will be ready for use Oct. 1.

The 50,405-square-foot building, located on 10th Street between King and Laurel streets, will have room for 40 beds, but can be expanded to 80.

Guards can patrol remotely from a command center with 82 cameras that cover almost every square inch of the building.

Electronic steel doors and elevators can be remotely operated to control the movement of inmates.

A 280-foot concrete-walled tunnel runs under 10th Street and connects to another tunnel running between the county jail and the Justice Building, which houses courtrooms. The tunnel will be used to transport food and laundry and will help conceal the identities of juveniles when they are moved from the building to a courtroom.

Cell walls and ceilings are lined with plate steel, and beds are concrete slabs that will have a three-inch thick cushion on top.

The center will feature a courtroom and a shelter area for 16 youths who haven't broken the law but need a place to stay. Shelter youths will get a real bed to sleep on and will be housed in a different area than inmates.

The center will work with the Medford School District to offer separate classes for shelter youths and inmates.

It also will have a hearing room, classroom space, intake area and 24 offices for probation and assessment.

The new center replaces a building at the South Gateway Shopping Center, which has 20 detention and 16 shelter beds.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail