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County breaks ground on new jail
Sheriff Wayne Bennett hopes history does not repeat itself, at least when it comes to the Glynn County jail.

At Tuesday's ground-breaking ceremony for the new $24 million facility, Bennett pointed out that the county built a jail in 1976, another one in 1989 and is preparing to build another now.

"I hope we get it right this time," he said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work, dedication."

Things have been moving quickly since the county purchased a 35-acre tract off U.S. 341 near the public works complex for $475,000 as the site for the new jail.

Jacksonville-based Allstate Construction was awarded the bid and is prepared to start clearing the tract the day after Labor Day. And in 18 months, county officials expect to have another ceremony at the site to commemorate the grand opening.

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said the ground breaking, while symbolic, shows the community cares about the jail and the treatment of prisoners.

"It says a lot about what people think on both sides of the bars," she said. "Today is a day to look forward, not past."

Glynn County Commission Chairman Richard Strickland said the citizens of Glynn County were "instrumental in bringing us where we are today."

Commissioner Bob Coleman praised the project for the impact it will have on the community.

"I think this is a perfect illustration of what people can do when they put their minds to it," said Coleman, who supported moving the detention center away from downtown Brunswick. "This is a huge step for downtown Brunswick."

Some of those who spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony said they were uncertain how the jail debate would be resolved.

Brunswick and county officials were in the middle of a fierce debate over the jail project four years ago when Amy Callaway was a candidate for county commission.

Callaway was elected, along with two other new commissioners, because they promised to vote against county plans to expand the existing jail in downtown Brunswick.

The change in commission membership ended plans to expand the jail downtown.

"I think this is my best day of service as a commissioner," she said.

Callaway will not be an elected official when construction is complete because she isn't seeking another term in office, but she knows where she will be when the ribbon cutting ceremony is held.

"I'll be here with bells on as a citizen when the jail opens," she said.

Sheriff-elect Neil Jump expressed excitement about moving into the new jail when it's complete.

"A lot of prayer went into this, a lot of thought," he said. "Glynn County will be proud of what they have and what they will get."

The county has hired a company to photograph all phases of construction to document any problems.

Bennett, who is retiring at the end of the year, said it will be helpful to Jump to pay close attention to the construction of the facility.

"I would have loved to be here for construction," Bennett said. "Hopefully, (Jump) will know the jail inside and out."

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