The county’s longstanding need to replace the Lawrence County Jail is getting a jump start through an eight-acre gift of land from the City of Mt. Vernon.

Mt. Vernon City Council voted to transfer the undeveloped acreage south of Interstate 44 with the condition that if progress on the jail construction isn’t made within three to five years, ownership will revert back to the city.

It may take that long to develop plans and financing for the project, and to save money toward the construction, county commissioners said. But even though it may be a long-term effort, they’re committed to seeing it happen.

The county commission and Sheriff Brad DeLay said they envision a facility to bring all the sheriff’s office operations and jail under one roof. Jail capacity would have to be large enough to bring back all the inmates the county is paying other facilities to house, and allow for growth.

The site will also allow future generations to expand facilities as needed – something the county has been unable to do with its current landlocked jail.

No decision has been made yet on what will be done with the existing jail after the goal of a new facility is achieved.