Jasper County Counselor Norman Rouse said the county will start the proceedings to have the property immediately east of the Jasper County Detention Center in Carthage condemned.
Rouse announced at Tuesday’s Jasper County Commission meeting that he will start the legal proceedings to condemn the property, which has two vacant homes on it, one of which was damaged by fire on Feb. 9, 2010.
Jasper County Presiding Commissioner John Bartosh said he’s contacted the owner of the property, Noe Salas, through Carthage Real Estate agent Kip Smith, to ask about buying the property, but the owner wants a price that the county is not willing to pay.
“I think since I’ve been here I’ve been trying to get that piece of property to get those people to do something,” Bartosh said. “And they just won’t get off of dead center.”
Bartosh said the county needs the property for potential future expansion of the already-crowded jail.
The jail, located at 405 E. Fifth St., already uses much the land available on the property owned by the county at that location. Only a small parking lot is not covered by the building.
Rouse said the condemnation proceedings will determine the fair market value of the property.
“Under the condemnation process, it has to be established under the law that there is a public need or public use for that property, then the court appoints three commissioners who make a determination as to a fair market value,” Rouse said on Tuesday. “The county always has to pay fair market value and I’m sure they want to pay fair market value, so condemnation sets up a mechanism where fair market value can be paid in and that property acquired.”
Lynn Shelley, codes enforcer for the Carthage Public Works Department, said she has been sending letters to Salas about both homes for some time, but Salas has been working on the homes and has met the city’s requests in a timely manner.
She said the large home at 514 E. Fourth St. is boarded up and secured in a way that meets city code.
Shelley said Salas was in the Public Works Department office last week to talk about what needed to be done to the fire-damaged home at 518 E. Fourth St.
“We try to work with people as long as they’re trying to work on their homes,” Shelley said. “We try to work with every individual based on their situation. He’s been working on the homes as much as his time and finances allow, I believe. Each deadline that’s been set, he’s met or we’ve granted an extension because work continues to proceed.”
Page 2 of 2 - The two homes and the vacant lots on Fifth Street to the south of the homes are all on one lot that takes up the east end of the block that includes the jail.
Public Records on the website www.jaspercounty.org show that Salas has owned the property since September 2008.
Salas returned a phone call to The Carthage Press on Wednesday, but said he did not speak English so was not able to answer questions from a reporter, who did not speak Spanish.