TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) - The search for a new operator of the Bowie County Detention Center and the Bi-State Justice Center in Texarkana may be over.
On Monday, the Bowie County Commissioner's Court voted to sign an agreement with LaSalle Corrections of Ruston, Louisiana, to take over the job.
Last November, Community Education Center, which currently owns the Bi-State Justice Center and the Bowie County Detention Center, gave the county 90 days to find another vendor to operate the two facilities.
Since then, the county has been searching for another company that will not only take over, but keep the 130 employees.
"We plan to keep all of the employees pretty much at their current rate," says Billy McConnell of LaSalle Corrections. "The benefits will change slightly, but we have a comparable benefit package, it will just be with our company."
McConnell says they hope to increase employees from 130 to 175 as the inmate population grows. Each governmental entity will pay $39.50 per day, per inmate at the Bi-State lockup and $46.50 per day at the Bowie County Detention Center.
"I hope to be a supporter of the community like the previous company has been and I'd like to think the employees will be happy with the transition."
Not everyone has satisfied with the choice of LaSalle, however.
"The Texarkana, Arkansas Board of Directors have to approve anything involving the bi-state," says
Texarkana, Arkansas Mayor Wayne Smith.
The Bi-State Justice Center houses inmates for Texarkana, Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas and Bowie County. Mayor Smith says Texarkana Arkansas was not involved in the negotiations and at this time cannot give their approval of the Commissioner's Court's decision. "Our board hasn't seen it yet and we are committing funds," says Smith. They'll be discussing it at their next board meeting.
The Mayor says his city has no concern with what happens at the Bowie County Detention Center.
On the Texas side, Texarkana officials expressed approval of the decision.
The current contract for the operation of the facilities expires on February 13.
Two others submitted bids for the job, including Community Education Center and Emerald Correctional Management of Shreveport.