The changing of the guard is approaching.
Tuesday morning, the Warren County Prison Board officially accepted the retirement of Warren County Jail Warden Gerald Britton.
On Jan. 2, Britton submitted a memo of intent to retire on May 23.
The board spent nearly an hour in executive session discussing plans for transition of leadership after Britton’s departure before taking any official action.
In a unanimous vote, Warren County Sheriff Ken Klakamp was appointed to serve as interim warden beginning on April 1. Klakamp, who sits on the board in his capacity as sheriff, recused himself from the vote.
When Klakamp assumes his duties, he will be heading up a transition team intended to ensure operations at the jail run smoothly through Britton’s departure in May.
Klakamp’s duties will be in addition to his position as sheriff, a situation which the county has been in before. Prior to the decision to switch from a prison task force to a prison board system and the accompanying appointment of interim warden Randy Ickert, operating the jail fell under the pervue of the sheriff’s department.
The board expressed hope the change would prove workable on a permanent basis and provide an opportunity to combine duties and save money, but stressed the move is on a trial basis.
“I would think at some point, if we’re satisfied, we would appoint him (Klakamp) permanently,” board member and Warren County Commissioner John Eggleston said.
“We have to see that this is going to save some tax dollars in these lean times,” board member and District Attorney Ross McKeirnan cautioned.
While prison operations duties will return to the sheriff’s department, the board itself will remain as the oversight body for the jail rather than reverting to a prison task force.
Board member and County Commissioner John Bortz requested the board meet in executive session before Klakamp assumes his new duties to work out transition details as the board does not have a regularly scheduled meeting until April 23.
Britton was not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting as he, Deputy Warden Steve Smith and Chief Clerk Pam Matve were in an arbitration hearing. Britton did, however, comment afterwards.
“I’m looking forward to retirement,” Britton said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve spent the last five here. I’m looking forward to having some time. My daughter lives in South Carolina and I’m looking forward to having some time to spend with the grandkids in Charleston. So I’m going to take a break and then probably find something part-time.
“The facility here is running good. The people I work with do a great job and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. The staff really do a great job and will continue to do so.
“It really has been a pleasure working here. This community is very supportive… It’s really made the job here easy.”
The board approved a total of $31,500 in bills. Besides regular expenses such as food and utilities, a bill for approximately $7,200 for boiler repairs and a hot water heater was approved.