Marshfield’s 141st Independence Day Parade Ends with Opening of Webster County Justice Center

The city of Marshfield held their 141st Independence Day parade, the longest running Independence Day parade west of the Mississippi, and it served as the prelude to the opening of the new center for justice in the county.

The parade continued despite the threat of COVID-19, with the parade route expanded compared to previous years, and residents taking care to socially distance their families.

The day was capped off with the opening of the new Webster County Justice Center, which will feature new courtrooms, new offices for the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, and a new jail facility.

There ceremony included the raising of the American flag by a World War II veteran and D-Day participant, Dr. Tommy McDonald (shown below). A quartet of young women sang the national anthem, and a county judge offered an invocation to bless the new facility.

The opening brought a number of dignitaries, including Governor Mike Parson, Senator Roy Blunt, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and multiple other state representatives, many of whom addressed the few hundred residents who attended the ceremony.

Senator Roy Blunt

“I can’t think of a better thing to call it than the Justice Center,” Senator Blunt told the crowd. “In the pledge of allegiance we all did earlier, we talked about liberty and justice for all. You can’t have liberty without justice, you can’t have justice without liberty, and you can’t have it if it’s not for everybody.”

Blunt drew cheers from the crowd when he gave specific praise to law enforcement.

“Hard to think of a tougher job than law enforcement in America today,” Blunt said. Blunt then said perhaps the only job harder is that of the spouse and family members of someone who works in law enforcement, sending their loved one to work in an environment where certain parts of our country are openly hostile to law enforcement.

Governor Parson, a former county sheriff, said the message in the celebration of the facility’s opening should be a normal practice.

Governor Parson

“Law and order should be celebrated,” the Governor said. “It’s the only thing that keeps us going every day. It’s the only thing that keeps civilization.”

The governor also noted the small town values that get taught in communities like Marshfield have helped the elected officials from the region.

“You know the most important thing about legislators from Webster County and across southwest Missouri?” the Governor said. “You know the one thing they have that other people don’t have anymore? Common sense. Simple common sense. And we need more people like them.”

The new jail facility features an “indirect supervision” form of design, which has the jail’s shape in the general form of a wheel. A control center is at the spoke, with cameras and windows that allow the deputies to observe every unit. In the past, deputies would need to be assigned to each unit. The new layout will save the county millions from the cost of deputies that would be needed for a normal jail design.

One of the pods in the new Webster County Jail. The layout is designed to allow supervision of more inmates by a smaller amount of deputies.

The indirect supervision layout is similar to what will be used in the new Greene County Jail, which allowed the county commission and Sheriff Jim Arnott to turn the money saved on those salaries into a more robust jail and office facility for the Sheriff’s office.

Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole told OI that the new facility couldn’t have happened without the leadership of the county officials who came before him to put the process in motion, and the residents of Webster County who saw the real need for a new jail and worked with the county to find a way to get the facility done in the most cost effective manner.

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