Jail work, hiring on schedule

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL – The regional jail construction remains on schedule and recruitment continues for officers and staff.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board heard updates at its meeting Wednesday. The $80 million regional jail is scheduled to open July 1 though officials expect contractors to complete construction this spring.

James Marstin, the owner’s representative on the project, advised the board that problems with a cistern designed to collect rainwater, which the jail will use for laundry, are being addressed. Groundwater was found to be leaking into the cistern, Marstin explained. Repairs were made but groundwater needs to recede before they can determine if the work helped fix the problem.

Marstin also advised the board of change orders or unplanned expenses. The board adopted a resolution to approve a change order to spend $86,254 on additional security upgrades to the jail. The board also backed a change order for $32,609 for fire and smoke dampers that would be installed in duct work.

Training for correctional officers began this week at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy. Superintendent Robert Mulligan told the jail board that 40 potential recruits entered the academy — a special request because the training program usually only takes a few each session. However, two people were withdrawn for administrative reasons and one person left to join the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. On the first day of training, one of the officers suffered an injury, becoming the first of the regional jail’s staff to begin collecting workers compensation, Mulligan said.

Officers at the local jails in the three counties are being considered for correctional officer positions at the regional facility, Mulligan said. Those applicants who successfully complete the academy will received certification through the Department of Criminal Justice as a correctional or jail officer.

Mulligan also reported that the jail had hired several staff positions that are not sworn officers.

Much of the discussions by the Finance and Personnel Committee and Transition Committee that preceded the meeting focused on setting up benefits for jail staff.

The Finance and Personnel Committee also heard from Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, who told members that the state budget proposed by outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell includes funding for the regional jail but not until October.

Discussions are underway with legislators who represent the area to propose an amendment to McDonnell’s budget that would begin jail funding by the State Compensation Board by July 1, Stanley said. The state agency has funding in place for the local jails but those facilities cease to operate July 1.

The board also adopted a resolution to accept a bid of $301,974 for jail furniture.

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