By Linda Looney-Bond
The Clayton County Sheriff's Office has been awarded a federal grant of $153,000 to offset the cost of housing illegal immigrants, according to sheriff's office officials.
"We're excited because any time the federal government sends money to local agencies to help us do our job, Clayton County wins," said Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough.
Kimbrough said the grant comes from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, and was awarded by the United States Department of Justice.
"I already know the county intends to use some of that money to replace the kitchen kettles that failed recently," Kimbrough said.
The jail's three industrial-sized kettles are being replaced, after they were recently deemed unsafe to operate.
Clayton County Public Information Officer Jamie Carlington said late last month that it may be the middle of January before the new kettles are installed.
According to Clayton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Garland Watkins, $53,000 of the grant money is expected to be set aside to pay for the kettles.
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted, Tuesday, to approve the acceptance of the federal grant funds, according to Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell.
"We intend to fix those kettles right away," said Bell. "I am very, very bothered about the condition of that jail. We have to look, as much as possible, to find soft monies, meaning not coming directly from the taxpayers, in order to take care of some of the expenses.
"The sheriff gets to decide how it's [the grant funds] spent, but he must spend them within the federal guidelines," Bell said.
Following a recent power outage at the jail, the sheriff's office may also use some of the grant funds to pay for other equipment, according to Kimbrough.
"Two particular issues -- we have one generator that is inoperative out of two total, and also a switch gear ... which makes the generators come on when we lose power from the power grid," he said.
Watkins, the chief deputy, said the grant money can also be use toward training and salaries of corrections officers, and inmate programs like GED testing.