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Regional jail in search of officers, staff

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- The regional jail will be hiring staff and officers soon to allow time for training.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board met Thursday and approved advertising for 35 officers and five administrative positions. The authority plans to send its recruits to the Rappahannock Criminal Justice Academy in Middletown once the school accepts the jail. Training for the first group of recruits will begin in January.

The authority can expect to spend $767,672 in salaries and benefits to hire the officers, according to information from Mary Beth Price, county administrator for Shenandoah County. Administrative positions would cost $306,444, based on a start date of Nov. 1, Price said.

The $1.07 million would come out of the $1.4 million the jail has to spend on salaries, benefits and training for the people hired ahead of the July 1 opening. However, as Price explained, this amount does not cover the cost to hire more officers and other staff the authority may need for the jail.

John McCarthy, county administrator for Rappahannock County, noted the cost could use up much of the money the jail has budgeted for hiring staff and training.

Price explained after the meeting that the jail budgeted $900,000 for training and $500,000 to pay for salaries and benefits for personnel hired ahead of the opening. She noted that the training money was also earmarked for salaries and benefits. While the authority set a hiring date of Nov. 1 as a basis for the estimated cost, Price said the board doesn't expect to fill all of the positions by that time.

In addition to the 35 officers for the jail, the board authorized the advertisement for an information technology specialist, a facilities maintenance manager, a chief financial personnel manager and a compliance safety officer. Once the authority hires the deputy superintendent, officials would conduct interviews for the other positions.

Board Chairman Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, asked Superintendent Robert Mulligan if he planned to look at other jails for personnel possibly interested in working at the RSW. Mulligan said he plans to visit jails in all three jurisdictions to look at staffing.

The 35 recruits would need to attend an 11-week training course at the academy to receive certification that allows them to perform more duties at the jail.

McCarthy pointed out an issue could arise as jail officers in the first class come out of the academy before the facility opens. Some of the recruited officers enroll in a second academy class in April. McCarthy suggested sending some of the certified recruits from the first academy class to work at existing facilities until the regional jail opens.

"I feel much more comfortable about the fact that those will be productive positions in the sense that they are turning over comparable dollars," McCarthy said.

Mulligan reported that the Rappahannock Criminal Justice Academy is on board with the regional jail's intent to send its recruits to the Middletown campus for training. Mulligan said he expects the academy leadership to vote to accept the regional jail in December. Mulligan said he did not know the cost to train individual recruits.

Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron told the board he expects the cost to increase but that the academy should know the information in October.

Also at the meeting, the board heard an update on the construction from James Marstin of JRM Consulting and the owner's representative for the project. Marstin said crews have closed in most of the building. Stanley asked about previous issues with the roof and moisture found between some of the layers. Marstin said as work on the roof moves forward the water is disappearing. The manufacturer of the roof is expected to come to the site and inspect the work in October, Marstin said. He added that the manufacturer doesn't believe the roof poses problems.

Conrad Helsley, chairman of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, asked about the inspection.

"If it's closed in how are they going to inspect it?" Helsley asked.

Marstin explained that at a second inspection the manufacturer cut into the roof and checked sections for moisture. Water had neither affected the insulation nor the adhesive, Marstin said. The manufacturer claimed the water would eventually dry out.

Authority attorney Brendan Hefty is preparing a request for proposals for the creation of a jail management system. The process would allow the jail authority to look at options and costs for such a system. Additionally, the authority will seek proposals from firms on its communications system.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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