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Two weeks after a group of inmates escaped the Grainger County jail, county commissioners got their chance to ask some questions Monday night.

At a special meeting, Grainger County commissioners heard from the District Attorney General, Jimmy Dunn, Grainger County attorney Dirk Daniel, county mayor Mark Hipsher, and Chief Deputy Charles Biddle, who is currently filling the duties of the sheriff.

With the investigation still ongoing, the four county leaders all gave very limited answers to commissioners' questions about how the inmates escaped and who should take the blame.

Hipsher and Biddle presented a list of items they say the jail needs in order to bring the facility up to standard. They say the upgrades would keep the jail secure for inmates and the public.

Those include new:

  • Locks, priced at $64,000
  • Fence, priced at $37,882
  • Computer system, priced at $29,000
  • Cameras, priced at $33,112
  • The total for these upgrades would come to $163,994, paid through capital outlay.

Commissioners agreed the jail needed improvements, but the group was split on when to fund it. One group wanted to secure the funds immediately, while another group wanted to wait until they learned more about the investigation.

"Hopefully the next meeting we'll have more answers. Really, that's what they want," Biddle explained. "Warranties and different things -- and we need to do our research on it and make sure we have good answers for them, any question they might have."

Biddle also addressed the ongoing investigation into multiple burglaries in Blaine.

He guesses there are about 18 open cases right now, only one more since they upped patrols in the area.

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