New jail leadership looking at savings

The first meeting of the Warren County Prison Board under the new Warren County Jail administration met Tuesday morning to discuss transition to new jail leadership and efforts to cut ballooning overtime costs.

“It’s a pleasure having you gentlemen take the helm,” Warren County Commissioner and Board Chairman John Bortz told new warden Ken Klakamp and Deputy Warden Gregory Deivert.

Klakamp was recently appointed to serve as warden in addition to his duties as sheriff.

It was reported that work on flashing in the jail exercise yard had been completed and heating duct work was nearing completion. Work estimates, according to Commissioner John Eggleston, were bid at approximately $30,000. Actual costs came to approximately $14,000.

Klakamp reported the sheriff’s office is working to combine certifications of its officers and corrections officers and move necessary initial employment requirements to a one-day schedule in an effort to reduce cost. Both sets of officers must receive multiple certifications including CPR, taser, first aid training, shooting qualifications and other requirements.

“We’re combining the sheriff’s office and jail to do the CPR, the first aid…,” Klakamp said.

Klakamp also noted the jail staff is looking at how female inmates are handled to try to reduce overtime costs for guards.

Commissioner Chairman Steve Vanco said he and Chief Clerk Pam Matve had attended a Northwest Commissioners conference featuring McKean County President Judge John Pavlock as speaker. Pavlock discussed a program in McKean County that uses extensive community service as an alternative to jail sentences. Amongst other activities, offenders perform work at the former county farm site growing vegetables to offset jail food costs. The program is limited to certain types of offenders, but has significantly reduced jail population.

“I think the number was from 167 (inmates) to I think 47,” according to Vanco. “They’re willing to come do a presentation. They would want Judge (Maureen) Skerda on board from the start and they would want you (Klakamp) involved.”

Klakamp announced he is working with NRA instructors to provide firearms safety courses. The courses are required by personnel he supervises, but Klakamp is finalizing plans with instructors to open the sessions to the public.

“I’m concerned about people getting (firearms) carry permits who maybe haven’t had much experience,” Klakamp said.

The board approved payment of bills totalling $12,377.99.

“They’re basically utility payments,” Eggleston said.

Klakamp reported a total inmate population of 133, down from a high-point for the month of 143. Seven inmates are being held for transfer to state facilities, 74 are serving county-level sentences, 14 are incarcerated due to parole violations and 13 are out-of-county inmates serving Forest County sentences. Of the inmates, eight are on work release and the female inmate population is 23.

Although the board has been meeting bi-monthly, it has opted to hold monthly meeting in order to keep up to date on the jail’s transition to new leadership. The next board meeting will be held on May 28.