A lighting project at the Carbon County prison has hit some snags.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board on Wednesday, the board discussed the exterior lighting retrofit proposal from Grainger Lighting Services. The proposal, which calls for changing over the lighting in all exterior lighting at the prison, came in at just over $54,000 after rebates.

The interior lighting retrofit proposal, which the board discussed last month, also came in just under $33,000 after rebates.

County solicitor Daniel Miscavige noted that there are some concerns at this time, explaining that Grainger indicated they were under state contract, but are not; and then said they are part of a co-op program between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Currently, the county is having trouble getting confirmation that Grainger is in the co-op program.

Robert Crampsie, chairman of the prison board and county controller, noted that the outdoor figure was high.

"The savings are just not there," he said. "The interior, I like the idea, but the exterior would take quite a few years to recoup (the county's initial investment)."

He added that he asked Grainger why the exterior costs were so much higher than the interior costs, but the answer they provided was not completely clear.

Crampsie said that if he had to make a decision, he would consider just doing the interior project this year, but right now, going with Grainger is even in question.

Warden Joseph Gross asked if there was a time limit that needed to be followed in order to receive the rebates for the project.

Miscavige said that the deadline is April 30, but Grainger representatives indicated that they believe the rebate will be extended.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said that he was contacted by another company who did the retrofit project and they noted that the ballasts for the lights wore out very quickly, which cut into the overall savings the project was supposed to bring.

"It may not be the savings we anticipated," he said, adding that he called Grainger about the ballasts but has not received a call back as of yesterday.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard then reiterated that he feels the prison should do this project in-house because he believes the maintenance staff was qualified to do it.

Crampsie said that discussion brought some other concerns regarding the amount of time it would take the maintenance staff, as well as if a certified electrician was needed.

The board agreed that it would see about if Grainger is with the co-op and try to work out the details before it proceeds with either lighting project.

In other matters, the board voted to send a letter to Carbon County President Judge Roger Nanovic asking that he attend the prison board's meetings.

Nothstein said during the motion that the reason for asking Nanovic to attend is because of the overcrowding issue currently being faced at the prison. The prison population as of Wednesday was 180.

Frank Shubeck, director of the work release program at the prison, also updated the board on a current agreement between the prison and Kovatch KME in Nesquehoning.

Currently, Kovatch employs six inmates through the work release program and, according to discussions Shubeck had with the company, is happy with the work so far and is interested in hiring at least another two inmates.