Officials Issue Call for Help

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Lauderdale County's Board of Supervisors has received a letter from Barbara Vinzant, director of the juvenile center, asking for help.

In a taping of WTOK's On The Record program, Newscenter 11 read a portion of that letter to District 2 supervisor Jimmie Smith and District 5's Ray Boswell.

"Lauderdale County has had five murders in the last few months that were committed by juveniles who grew up coming to the juvenile center. These juveniles will not hesitate to injure or kill the staff or the public," read the letter signed by Vinzant.

Vinzant asked the board to station a fulltime deputy sheriff at the center to assist them.

Boswell said the problems at the juvenile center were news to him.

"No doubt about it. Of course, we put some money in the budget a year ago for a deputy out there," Boswell said. "So that deputy was never hired and that money is still in the budget."

Sheriff Billy Sollie told Newscenter 11 he has never been asked to hire a deputy for the juvenile center.

At one time there was a discussion of building a modern, more secure regional juvenile center in cooperation with adjoining counties. That talk has seemingly died.

"I think most of the folks that we talked to are still interested in it. It's a matter of us rejuvenating the conversation and putting some structure to it," said Smith.

"If those other counties were receptive to providing their share of the funds, certainly Lauderdale County would step up to the plate and try to provide its share," added Boswell.

We contacted Vinzant for a further statement, but she said Youth Court Judge Frank Coleman had instructed her there were to be no public comments.

On the Record airs in its entirety Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on WTOK-TV, Channel 11 in Meridian.