Rhea Merchants Concerned About Jail's Effect on Courthouse

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Updated: 3/05/2013 9:30 am
Home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, it's one of the most recognizable courthouses perhaps in the country - and a huge selling point for Rhea County tourism.

That's why Rhea County Historical Society President Tom Davis says he hopes any future downtown jail plans preserve the historic feel.

Davis says "The historical society really believes that the county needs to maintain the courthouse in some form or fashion."

The much-debated Rhea County Jail is easy to spot - just behind the celebrated William Jennings Bryan statue.

But County Commissioner and Budget Finance Chair Ron Masterson says Architect David Brown is aware of the aesthetic expectations for the new detention center.

Masterson says "It has a very good history behind it, and we do not want to do anything that would jeopardize our courthouse and the way our courthouse looks and the impact it has on Rhea County."

Davis says that's something downtown merchants are concerned about.

Davis says "Whatever is done we hope it's something that takes into account all of downtown, not just these couple of blocks right here."

Reporter "And as you can see behind me Rhea County's historic courthouse is not only known as a tourist attraction it's actually also still a fully functioning courthouse and is home to daily courtroom activities."

And Masterson says those courtroom activites at the Historic structure will most likely continue for years to come.

Masterson says "The inmates will either be bused in from the off-site location or they'll be walked across the street like they have been for years."

Masterson says both plans on-site off-site locations will be presented at the regular third-Tuesday commission meeting.

In Rhea County, Brittany Shaw, WDEF News 12.

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