Commissioner George Halcovage replaced President Judge William E. Baldwin as chairman of the Schuylkill County Prison Board at the reorganization meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Baldwin served as chairman for the past eight years. Both Halcovage and Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier paid him tribute for his leadership.

Halcovage added that in the two years he has been a county commissioner he found the board to be a great team interested in protection of the citizens of Schuylkill County and also complimented the warden and prison staff on their diligence.

Controller Cristy Joy replaced Sheriff Joseph G. Groody as secretary. Halcovage appointed Staudenmeier and fellow commissioner Gary Hess and Joy to serve on the personnel committee.

District Attorney Christine Holman became the new member of the prison board and her addition changed the political composure of the board from Democratic to Republican.

The Republican members are Staudenmeier, Halcovage, Joy and Holman; and the Democrats, Baldwin, Groody and Hess.

Other business

The monthly meeting of the board followed the reorganization meeting.

Warden Eugene Berdanier gave his report on the financial, physical plant, prison population, and medical services.

Revenues included $6,404.85 from inmates making purchases in the commissary, and $4,992.62 in telephone calls. The cost of operating the prison last month was $387,137.45, including salaries and wages, $203,226.90; and overtime, $13,716.067.

The cost of materials and supplies was $14,254.83; clothing and bedding, $2,790.84; groceries, $37,525.22; water and sewer, $28,663.41; medical services, $6,490.56; and maintenance and repairs, $,6,525.87.

Maintenance of the physical plant included repairs to a washing machine in the laundry room, replacing broken toilets and malfunctioning sliding doors in one of the cell blocks.

Berdanier reported one officer was on extended leave, and two guards placed on restricted duty for work related conditions.

Also, John Wowak, a correctional officer since 2001, was retiring and delivery and installation of the time clock expected this month and new cell doors being installed which allows food pass access.

The current prison population was 261 inmates, including 219 males and 42 females. The peak for December was 280 inmates including 52 females. Total intakes for 2013 were 1,863 inmates, including 1,474 males and 389 females. The average length of stay per inmate was 59 days.

There were 183 inmates on sick call in December, 55 visited a dentist, 57 were seen by psychiatrists, 224 were seen by nurses on sick calls, and 14 were on suicide watch with no incidents occurring.

Prerelease

program

The prerelease program initiated a few months ago to help alleviate overcrowding is working well according to Berdanier.

A total of 11 offenders were placed on the prerelease status in December by members of the court. A total of 48 offenders were active on prerelease status saving 1,238 total jail days.

Approximately 4,952 alcohol tests were administered and 138 drug tests were taken on 48 participants on prerelease status.

Twelve inmates were qualified to be lodged in the work release section which permits them to attend to their daily jobs but when work is finished they report to the prison and not to their homes.

Eleven inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and performed 19 jobs serving 100 senior citizens as recommended by the Office of Senior Services, plus five community jobs and nine jobs for the county.