ROGERSVILLE — The state Board of Probation and Parole has 90 days to vacate a Hawkins County-owned office building in Rogersville, where the board has operated rent free since 2004.
The Rogersville office serves Hawkins County residents on probation and parole through Third Judicial District Criminal Judge John Dugger’s court.
The state decided in 2004 to cut funding for the previous Rogersville Board of Probation and Parole office.
At that time, the Hawkins County Commission approved a verbal agreement to allow the board to occupy offices on the lower level of a county building on McKinney Avenue across the street from Rogersville Middle School. According to the agreement, the board was to stay in that office for six months, at which time it would either find a new location or begin paying $270 rent.
The County Commission apparently forgot about that agreement, however, and to this date no rent has been paid, nor has an official lease with the state ever been signed.
The upper level of that building, which is street level with McKinney Avenue, is the Hawkins County Archive office, which has asked for additional space.
The Hawkins County Commission’s Buildings Committee voted 6-0 with one abstention on Tuesday to give the Board of Probation and Parole 90 days to vacate the lower level office.
Although committee member Dwight Carter voiced support for evicting the board outright within 90 days, he abstained during the vote.
Committee member Hubert Neal initially made a motion to give the board 60 days to either vacate the office or begin paying the $270 per month rent.
Neal said he doesn’t believe the location across the street from RMS is appropriate for “rapists and drug dealers” to be convening to meet their probation or parole officer.
Other commissioners suggested that $270 per month is way too low for that space.
“(County Archive Director) Jack Goins requested on three different occasions that they need more room,” said County Mayor Melville Bailey. “Our archive office is very important to this county.
Neals’ motion was defeated 2-5 with only Neal and Commissioner Jeff Barrett in favor.
The Building Committee discussed this issue last month, but it delayed taking action to see what effect closing that office would have on jail population if the board opts not to seek another Rogersville location.
If that office closes, Hawkins County residents on probation and parole through Criminal Court would possibly have to travel to the board’s Greeneville office to meet their parole officer.
There was a concern that there might be a spike in probation and parole violations from those who don’t have the means or the initiative to go to Greeneville.
Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tony Allen told the Times-News last month any possible spike in jail population as a result of the office closing would be minimal and shouldn’t affect the Building Committee’s decision.
Committee Chairman Darrell Gilliam said he doesn’t have sympathy for convicts having to travel to Greeneville.
“If you do the crime, you know the justice system, and you’re going to go through the probation period,” Gilliam said.
“If you’ve done the crime, and you’ve done the time, then you do the probation,” he said.