Backers of the three-quarter cent county sales tax were elated Tuesday night after the measure passed by 52 percent of the vote.

The measure pulled ahead when the absentee ballot voting results were announced at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and never fell behind as the votes were tabulated.

“Somebody said people are wanting something positive to attach to,” said Mark Emmons, a member of the Pittsburg County Progress Committee which supported the bill.

“Maybe this is it.”

“It’s a great day,” said District 3 Pittsburg County Commissioner Randy Crone.

“I’m glad the people felt we were good stewards of the people’s money,” Crone said, noting that the voters made a distinction between city government and county government.

The sales tax is for expansion and renovation of the Pittsburg County Jail and county courthouse, as well as for the construction and acquisition of a county animal shelter.

A small portion of the tax will also be set aside for operation of the jail and animal shelter.

The jail has been cited for violations including overcrowding by the state jail inspector, while the state fire marshal has cited the courthouse for violations.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Jerome “Snookie” Amaranto said today that he’s looking forward to the projects getting under way.

“I’m ready to start today,” he said. The jail, which was designed for 65 inmates, remained slightly overcrowded with 70 prisoners this morning.

“I hope everything’s laid out like it’s supposed to be,” Amaranto said of the plans for the jail. “I know the taxpayers will be watching.”

Karen Askew, the president of the Partners for Animal Welfare Society and another member of the Progress Committee, expressed her elation at passage of the measure to benefit the three projects.

“This is so amazing,” she said. “The animal shelter is so needed. I’m grateful to the voters for recognizing the need for the shelter.”

Progress Committee Chairman Mike Ward said he had faith the measure would pass. “I’m always optimistic,” Ward said. “This committee researched the issues and came up with the best proposals we thought possible,” he said.

The county sales tax question had support across the board on Tuesday, winning in the city of McAlester precincts as well as precincts in rural Pittsburg County.

Of the 27,068 voters in Pittsburg County, only 4,810 voted in Tuesday’s election.

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