A discussion about a grant to hire new deputies turned into a question of what would be more important to the Sheriff’s Department:?Two new bodies or a new jail?

Sheriff?J.B. King spoke with county commissioners at their Monday meeting about the potential for the department to pursue a grant that will pay the salaries of two deputies for a period of three years, with the county picking up the tab for an additional year.

The department originally applied for the grant last year, but was turned down when monies ran out. Since then, additional funding has become available, and the county has until June to decide if it wants to try for the grant again.

King said he thinks the department has a pretty good chance of getting funding in this round of awards, since it was No. 15 on the list last year, and agencies including the St. Louis and Kansas City police departments had already received their officers.

The county’s cost for two deputies would be about $66,000— an approximate $16,500 a year—?a price Eastern District Commission Bill Farnham said “is pretty reasonable.”

But a bill floating in the legislature is causing Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch to question if acting on the grant opportunity would be the right thing to do at this time.

The bill, Senate Bill 1014, proposes people convicted of Class D and C felonies would serve their sentences in county jails. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday by a 18-13 vote, and is on its way to the House for consideration.

“I would, for my part, prefer that we wait and see what the House does on this pending legislation,” McCulloch said, adding that at some point, the county will need to purchase land to build a jail.

In other business:
• County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer told King she would have an exterminator contact him after King requested an exterminator for an insect problem in the jail.
• The commission went into closed session to discuss real estate.