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Deaf community to voice jail concerns

Deaf community to voice jail concerns

April 11th, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Gary Jungermann, Callaway County presiding commissioner, demonstrates the width of a crack between a partition and the wall in the Callaway County Jail's visitation room. The jail's foundations have been settling, causing cracks and other issues.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun.

Missouri School for the Deaf alumni and supporters have concerns about the county's jail relocation plans.

They'll share those worries during an upcoming community meeting, planned for noon April 19 in William Woods University's Ivy Room.

"It's a chance for people to learn about how the county's plans would impact the deaf community," WWU interpreting student Maddy Brown said.

She and other students in the school's American Sign Language interpretation program have helped arrange the meeting, she said.

"As interpretation students, we're learning about what it means to be an ally to the deaf community," she explained.

The idea for the meeting was sparked after a teacher showed her class an article about the county's idea. Following space and structural issues at the current Callaway County Jail, county commissioners and officials have been seeking a location to build a new facility.

Members of a citizen committee formed to give feedback on issues pertaining to county facilities heard about one potential solution during a late March meeting. First convened in January, the committee is tasked with giving feedback as county officials plan how to address the crumbling jail, too-small office facilities and other problems. (Read more about those issues at: bit.ly/2U2tsds)

County officials have approached the state about acquiring Rice Hall, a disused part of the Missouri School for the Deaf and former home to Kingdom Christian Academy. The property is at the corner of State and East Eighth streets. The plan is to build a combined courthouse, sheriff's office and jail on the site.

While Rice Hall is currently empty, it is located across the street from residential neighborhoods and Veterans Park. To the south are MSD facilities that are still in use.

During the April 19 meeting, members of the local deaf community will share about the importance of MSD.

"(They'll talk about) how putting the jail there could be the downfall of the school, and how that would affect the community," Brown said.

Government officials, including Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann and State Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) have been invited to attend the meeting, Brown added. It is open to all who are interested.