News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Win some, lose some, live to fight another day

The dislike between two Morgan County commissioners and Sheriff Greg Bartlett seems well established, but they still need to get along.

Commissioner Stacy George knows the art of needling. He can get under an opponent's skin easily. But Sheriff Bartlett's training teaches him to keep his cool. A sheriff with a quick temper is not a good thing.

So, let's see if the two sides can't live with the decision on staffing the new $23 million jail without resorting to any more of the conduct like that which took place Wednesday.

Commissioners George and Kevin Murphy, who's had his own run-in with the sheriff's deputies, voted to fund the jail at an amount below what the sheriff demanded.

He says he needs 102 people to run the jail that will hold 400 inmates. He expects it to have more than half that number when it opens later this year.

The commissioners, with a tie-breaking vote from Chairman John Glasscock, lowered the budget to pay for 78 workers.

During the discussions, the sheriff referred to Mr. George as a pig. "You know what, Stacy, somebody told me to never argue with a pig, never wrestle with a pig or you'll get dirty," he said.

The sheriff is proud of the new state-of-the-art jail and wants it to operate as a model facility. The two commissioners are not disagreeing; they simply don't understand the economics of fully staffing the jail until it nears capacity. Why open some of the cell pods until the county has inmates to fill them?

But the sheriff says he plans to board federal prisoners at a profit to the county as long as the jail has excess capacity, which appears to be a sensible decision.

The argument and name-calling were over the number of jailers and whether the sheriff gets an additional $557,000 or $700,000. He lost on his request but commissioners held open the promise of more money as the jail census rises. Any decision short of that would be irresponsible.

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