After receiving two inquiries regarding the legality of the competitive bid process in the lease of the Brown County Juvenile Justice Center, formerly Unit 2 of the Ron Jackson state school, officers with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office have been following the issue.
During a brief encounter outside the Brownwood Law Enforcement Center Friday afternoon, Brownwood citizen Joe Cooksey informed the Bulletin about the complaint he was going to make. In a copy of the letter he posted on the Bulletin’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Cooksey made several allegations against Brown County Judge Ray West including how West “without delay rejected the proposal/bid offer by Rite of Passage” and how he has a “secret deal with G4S without the commissioner’s knowledge.”
In a Wednesday interview with Brown County Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall, Duvall gave the following statement regarding the issue:
“Sheriff (Bobby) Grubbs has strongly directed us to handle this issue very carefully and methodically. This was first brought to us by a commissioner who had general concerns about the process and needed clarity on whether or not improper activity may have occurred. At this point, there is not a formal open criminal investigation. But, we are following up on certain elements presented to us by a commissioner and we are trying to determine enough to indicate whether or not there was improper activity. We will ask enough preliminary questions to see if there is enough to support an investigation. If, at that point, we see that an investigation is warranted, we will approach an outside agency to conduct the investigation. From this point, we will refrain from making comments on the concerns or allegations or the identities of persons who have approached us.”
An attempt to contact West has been made but he hasn’t contacted the Bulletin to respond to the current allegations. When the call was placed mid-morning, West was in a meeting the Bulletin was informed he would be unavailable the rest of the day. The Bulletin has scheduled a meeting with West for Thursday morning.
In a previous comment to the Bulletin, West stated Rite of Passage’s bid was rejected because it didn’t meet all of the requirements stated to lease the center.
According to a letter attached to its bid, Rite of Passage was “contingent upon Rite of Passage being awarded a contract from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) to provide secure residential specialized program services through a competitive biding process, successful negotiations with TJJD regarding the optimal location of the facility for its at-risk youth, and successful negotiations with Brown County regarding the facility.”
West stated the county could not accept a bid that had a condition the county didn’t have control over and if Rite of Passage didn’t receive the contract from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department they had no interest in the lease.
The Bulletin will continue to follow this developing story and provide updates as they become available.