Petition signed by thousands halts Madison County jail renovations


by Chris Stanford / News 4

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 7:07 PM

 (KMOV) -- With a wheelbarrow full of petitions, the Madison County Jail renovation has been stopped.

On Monday, Rod Spears steered the petitions, filled out with voter signatures, towards the county clerk’s office.  Spears helped organize “Bonds on Ballots” which had 30 days to get the signatures of 10 percent of county voters.  The group claims they collected a few thousand more than it needed.

“When we started, I didn’t think we’d get anywhere close to the objective which was 17,000,” said Spears.

The actual number needed was 17,722 according to the Madison County Clerk.  “Bonds on Ballots” reports its tally of signatures is more than 23,000.

The citizen group was made up of more than 150 volunteers, a lot of who showed up at the Madison County Administration Building Monday afternoon to watch the petitions be turned in to the Clerk’s Office.

“We felt like there were renovations that needed to be done, but we couldn’t believe how much money (the county) really wanted to spend,” said volunteer Donna Emerick-Smith.

Getting the signatures was the only way to stop Madison County from spending $18 million to fix up the overcrowded and outdated jail, at least temporarily.  County Board Chair Alan Dunstan said the board approved the project because voters likely would not have.

Madison County Clerk, Debbie Ming-Mendoza said now that the signatures are in, the project is on hold.

“All business stops, as far as the bond,” she said.

It is currently set up for voters to decide at the polls on March 18 if the county will spend the funds on the jail. There is still time for someone to challenge the signatures and would have to do so before Monday, November 25.

 If that happens, Ming-Mendoza said her office will have to verify each of the signatures submitted Monday.