Old jail demolition underway

After months of discussion and planning, demolition began this past week on the old county jail located behind the Franklin County Courthouse in downtown Russellville.

Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore said the demolition work began on Tuesday with the side building that housed the sheriff’s department and 911 offices and continued with the actual jail building itself.

“We brought in a track hoe to level that side building, and we ended up being able to tear down a portion of the jail with the track hoe as well,“ Moore said.

“We’ll be bringing in different equipment on Tuesday that will hopefully be a little quieter and make the process go quicker.”

Moore said the county’s solid waste department is doing the demolition work and the county highway department is providing the equipment.

“The county is working as a team to get this building torn down in the most cost efficient way possible,” Moore said.

He added the days when work is actually being done will depend on the judicial schedule so it might take a little longer than normal.

“We have to work with the court system to see what days will be the most convenient because there is a good bit of noise that’s been involved with this process,” Moore said.

“But we hope to have the demolition complete and all the debris cleaned up and hauled off by December.”

The old jail has been vacant since 2008 when the sheriff’s office moved into its new facility on Walnut Gate Road.

Moore said the Franklin County Commission has discussed what to do with the property for some time now, and he is glad to have the project finally underway.

“This building was in bad shape and was really a liability,” Moore said.

“It was time for it to come down and for us to be able to do something productive with that property that would benefit the citizens of our county.”

Moore said the space created by the demolition of the old jail would be used for parking for both the Franklin County Courthouse and the Russellville municipal court and police department next door.

“Parking has always been an issue at the courthouse, and it’s an even worse problem on the days when the municipal court is in session,” Moore said.

“Additional parking is something we have needed for a long time, and with the old jail gone, we will finally have the space for it.”

Moore said once the demolition process is complete, he hopes to let the land settle and allow time to correct any problem areas before the county moves forward with the creation of additional parking.