JENNINGS — Jeff Davis Parish officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of the new Jeff Davis Parish Regional Consolidated Jail — the result of a “team effort” from officials across the state.
“There’s no one person that can take credit for this building,” Chuck Kleckley, former speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, said. “This was a total team effort.”
Ronnie Petree of the Jeff Davis Parish Industrial Development Board thanked the people of Jeff Davis Parish for making this a reality.
“There’s nothing that cannot be accomplished by a group of Jeff Davis people,” he said. “This is a tribute to the people of Jeff Davis Parish.”
Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish said this was one of the best projects he has worked on within the Legislature.
“With collaboration, we were able to make this happen,” he said, adding the project has been in progress through two administrations — both former Gov. Bobby Jindal and current Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“We had the support from the entire delegation. Without that support, this would not be possible.”
Jeff Davis Sheriff Ivy Woods expressed his relief to have an opening date for the jail. Construction of the 31,0000-square-foot facility began in July 2016, with weather and construction issues causing several delays. It sits on a 17.5-acre site west of Jennings.
“At least I can answer the question everyone has wherever I go. ‘When is the jail going to be open?’ Now is the time. It’s open,” he said. “It’s a team effort. It goes all the way from the police jury to the Southwest Louisiana delegation.”
Former state Sen. Gerald “Jerry” Theunissen said adding the word “regional” to the title allowed for full funding from the state.
The $9.4 million project was paid completely from the state capital outlay program. No matching funds were needed to purchase the land or build the facility. This is the first time in the state’s history that construction of a jail facility has been fully funded by the state.
In May 2014, voters approved a new half-cent sales tax to fund the maintenance and operation of the facility, which is located at 1704 U.S. 90 West in Jennings. The tax is expected to generate $2.1 million annually. The Jeff Davis Police Jury will own the facility and the Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office will oversee its operations.