STIGLER — Some Stigler residents are upset that Haskell County Commissioners agreed to pay a reported $245,000 to buy property for a new jail when other proposed sites were offered for free by the city of Stigler.

Francis Stipe, of McAlester, the brother of former longtime state Sen. Gene Stipe, said the county commissioners recently signed a contract to buy property from him. He would not disclose the price.

Another seller of the property, Rick Bumpers of Stigler, could not be reached for comment.

The new $6.2 million, 109-bed jail is set to be built directly across the street from the Haskell County Courthouse. The current jail is on the third floor of the building.

Stigler City Manager Pete Bass said the city offered for free three properties on which the county could build the jail, one of which is about a block and a half from the courthouse. That site is just south of the police department, he said.

“The property that they are looking at across the street from the courthouse would not be the city’s first choice to have a new jail there,” Bass said. “We feel like it’s a prime retail spot for the city.”

A half-cent sales tax, approved by county voters in November, will fund the new facility.

The proposed site, now vacant, formerly housed the Haskell County Health Department, Bass said.

Jim Smith, a Stigler attorney, was city manager for eight years before Bass.

“It really doesn’t affect my business or my safety or sensibilities or anything else,” he said. “My only complaint with the proposed location is the price of it and the actual location itself.

“I just think it’s an inappropriate location for a jail. This is the most prime commercial real estate property in town, and you’re going to put a jail on it?”

A report in the Stigler News-Sentinel placed the agreement to buy the jail property at $245,000 for two lots.

County Commissioner Sam Cole would not confirm the price but did confirm that the new jail was to be located across the street from the courthouse.

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