Photo: Huntsville Mayor Dennis Jeffers (left) chats with Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett and State Senator Ken Yager during a grant presentation at the Huntsville Municipal Building on May 29, 2018.

HUNTSVILLE — The Town of Huntsville’s efforts to restore the old Scott County Jail received a shot in the arm Monday, when the State of Tennessee announced that a $75,000 grant has been awarded for the project.

The Tourism Enhancement Grant was awarded by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development and the Tennessee Department of Tourism. Local officials learned last week that they had received the grant, while the formal announcement was made jointly by State Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, and State Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, on Monday.

Application for the grant was made by the Industrial Development Board of Scott County, which partnered with the Town of Huntsville on the project. It marked the second time in three years that Scott County was awarded the grant. In the last cycle, it was used to restore the historic O&W Railroad bridge in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

“It is an honor to be able to work with our local municipalities and serve as a conduit to help obtain grant funding for projects that will benefit all of us,” said ID Board Chairman Jim Swann.

Ownership of the old jail, which was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was obtained by the town last year, after Mayor Dennis Jeffers approached Scott County Commission to ask that the facility be given to his town in exchange for a pledge that it would be restored and made available to the public in some fashion.

Work has since begun to renovate the dilapidated structure, which had set vacant for 10 years after the county moved its inmates to the new Scott County Justice Center in 2007.

“I have long been a supporter of preservation and restoration of the historic Scott County Jail,” Yager said. “I was happy to support the grant application. The tourism grant will provide needed funds to start the restoration. Restored, the historic jail will serve as a magnet for historians, preservationists and tourists.”

Keisling called the jail a “fixture” in the community. “These grant dollars will ensure that the facility’s rich history is preserved so that future generations know its significance in our local narrative,” he said.

Jeffers has stated in the past that he hopes to have the jail restoration complete and ready for the public to explore by October, when the Scott County Chamber of Commerce’s Fall on the Mall takes place on the courthouse mall adjacent to the jail.

The preceding article first appeared in the Oneida Independent Herald. Reprinted with permission.

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