Carbon County officials are continuing to weigh their options on outsourcing the kitchen operations at the prison.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board on Wednesday, the board voted to draw up bid specifications for outsourcing the kitchen using the successful bidders staff to run the operation.

Robert Crampsie, county controller and chairman of the prison board, provided the board with a draft of bid specifications that have already been drawn up.

The board looked over the draft, questioning a number of areas and asked that they be clarified before advertising.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein asked that the bid state if the company would be using the county employees or if they would be providing their own staff.

He pointed out that when talking to one company, it was noted that they would take the county's staff as their own.

Commissioner William O'Gurek added that he agreed with Nothstein, saying that having specific wording in the bid specs about staffing would help when the bids came in.

The board then discussed how the bid would be submitted. They said that it would include the average cost per meal, which right now is 2,300 calories a day per inmate. The specs state that the calories would be increased to 2,700.

Warden Joseph Gross explained that they are required to stay between 2,100 and 2,800 calories a day, and isn't sure how calories will change because the prison is moving away from pork-based products and going to turkey-based products.

The board will now look over the draft and continue to prepare for sending out bid specifications to interested companies.

The topic of outsourcing the prison kitchen began in August, after Gross asked for additional help because of staffing issues but was instructed to continue operations as normal.

He then brought up figures he researched on outsourcing the meals.

In September, Gross reported that there are three vendors interested in submitting proposals for the kitchen operations, adding that they could save the county money.

In other matters, Nothstein reported that he met with Congressman Lou Barletta regarding the county being recertified as an ICE approved facility.

Nothstein said that there seemed to be a lot of misinterpretation before the meeting.

He then asked the board if they still wanted to try to get certified to house illegal immigrants on a temporary basis, until ICE agents can pick them up. Currently, there are two ICE approved facilities serving Northeastern Pennsylvania. One is in Lackawanna County and the other is in Berks County.

Gross asked where the board thought these illegals would be housed because the current status of the prison is it is operating at over 100 percent capacity.

He added that ICE requires approved facilities to be able to guarantee 30 hard beds at any time, and Carbon currently does not have 30 hard beds available.

The group agreed that if they can become ICE certified for only temporary housing, it would be ideal.

Gross said he wasn't sure if that was an option.

Nothstein said all the county could do is try and see if that would be an option.