Pryor parents worry about idea to put fire, police and jail next door to middle school

The new Pryor jail could be build near a school playground. (KTUL)

PRYOR, Okla. (KTUL) – A new neighbor could be coming for Pryor’s middle school and parents are worried.

Highway 20 runs through the heart of downtown Pryor and just off the busy two-lane road sits the abandoned Homeland Grocery.

That could soon change.

Last week, the city council added a last-minute agenda item. A vote to purchase the old building and move police, fire and even jail cells into it.

Stephanie Kelley learned about it through Facebook and that’s not sitting well.

“We would have never known about this and it would have been passed without anybody being the wiser,” she said. “I am 100 percent in support of having new facilities for our fire and police. I think the location is not the best choice.”

She said that’s because it’s right across the street from Pryor Junior High School. As a mother of three, that has her worried.

“The safety issue of possible escapees at some point, how often is the school going to be on lockdown,” she said.

Her husband Ryan has a different perspective.

“It would take up a big portion of retail space,” he said.

He wants to see the building be open for businesses like it was originally built for.

“We have a main street organization where we’re trying to revitalize our downtown, supposedly our city is working with us to make that happen but on the other hand they want to take prime real estate and use it for something that really we don’t need to be spending money on at least in this location to buy the property,” he said.

Mayor Jimmy Tramel said he came up with the idea to give the departments a new central location. He said it’s a bigger safety concern moving police officers and firefighters to other parts of town.

“You can’t go north,” he said. “We own property north. We own 187 acres north that is not good use of the land because now you’ve taken the fire station and caused too much travel time from there going somewhere else.”

He admits, the police department would have jail cells there but that the plan is to put them on the opposite side of the building, farther away from the school.

“If I thought for a minute it would cause harm to the school we wouldn’t have done it,” said Tramel.

The Kelleys still have a lot of questions.

“Give us some sort of research, some paperwork,” said Ryan.

They are encouraging people in their community to get involved when it comes to making plans for the town’s future.

Mayor Trimel said right now they have a “memorandum of understanding” to buy that property for $450,000 if voters pass a bond on the March 12 ballot. This means there is a formal agreement to purchase the property but it is not legally binding.

“Sure, we would have to tear it down but we’ve already got an estimated cost,” he said. “Where are you going to buy a piece of property for that for $450,000 downtown.”

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