Mayor Lee Harris delivers his second ‘State of the County’ address

Mayor Harris pushes for new school in State of the County address

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris delivered his second State of the County address Friday.

This year’s theme is “We Can Do More.”

Mayor Harris spent about 30 minutes for his second State of the County address inside Collierville High School, a school where they spent nearly $100 million to build. He’s got his eyes set on building another new school in another part of the county

“The current Shelby County school system was founded in 2013. It has never built a new high school. We need to get started,” said Harris.

Harris says it’s time to start investing in Shelby County School’s aging schools.

With more than half a billion dollars in deferred maintenance, he wants something new.

“And I believe Frayser is as good a place as any to plant a flag and make a start,” said Harris.

Harris says Shelby County School board member Stephanie Love made the suggestion for a new school in the North Memphis neighborhood. The project could cost upwards of $50 million.

Frayser activist and pastor Charlie Caswell says a new school in Frayser, that could rival the state of the art school in Collierville, is important for the kids there.

“You look at the school buildings that’s there. It’s coming down , paint peeling off the wall. So to give these kids that hope and that something people care about the community, it’s a great opportunity,” said Caswell.

Education accounts for the largest chunk of county spending. The criminal justice system is number two. The county spends about $100 million a year housing county inmates.

“We have to reduce recidivism because if we don't we will pay for that inaction,” said Harris.

The mayor says giving ex-inmates real job skills gives them a better chance to not re-offend.

He points to the County’s Office of Re-entry’s new Small Engine Repair Center, paying ex-offenders $15 an hour to learn the new engine repair skill.

Harris also plans to “Ban the Box” from all county applications, and added a new program called “Simple Summons” -- a text message reminder to former inmates show up for court dates.

Mayor Harris says 94% of those who receive text messages show up for court dates.

He applauded county commission for passing dedicated funding for public transit. MATA will receive $1 million every year from the county.

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