Carbon County has a new warden.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board, officials voted to hire Joseph Gross of Nazareth as the new prison warden. Sheriff Dwight Nothstein and county controller Robert Crampsie were absent.

Gross will fill the position that became vacant on March 16, when former Warden James Youngkin retired after 24 years of service in the corrections system. Since Youngkin's retirement, Timothy L. Fritz has been the acting warden at the Carbon County Correctional Facility in Nesquehoning.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, who also sits on the prison board, explained Gross has been a sergeant for the City of Bethlehem police for the last 15 to 20 years. Prior to that, he was an officer for Northampton Police and was a sergeant at the Lehigh County Prison, Allentown for three and a half years.

"We felt he had an understanding of the prison operations and we felt with his wealth of experience in supervising law enforcement individuals that he was the type of guy we were after for the job," O'Gurek said.

Gross is also a veteran of the U.S. Army military police, having served from 1980-1983. He holds certifications from the Allentown Police Academy; Lehigh Carbon Community College, where he received an associate degree in criminal justice; and Moravian College, where he received a bachelor's degree in sociology.

O'Gurek noted that Gross will take over as the new warden at the Carbon County Correctional Facility on Sept. 7. His salary will be set at a monthly salary board meeting at a later time.

The board is happy that the search is finally over.

The county advertised for the position twice, receiving about 30 applications, including five county employees.

Ten of those applicants were interviewed for the position and after numerous interviews, it was decided that Gross was best suited for the job.

"We don't like going out of county but sometimes that happens and we want to get the best qualified candidate for the position," Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said. "That's the bottom line. Hopefully things will work out."

He noted that the process in finding a new warden took longer than normal because there were issues that needed to be addressed and background checks needed to be completed.

District Attorney Gary Dobias added that it was a tough decision.

"The board felt there were a lot of good candidates that applied for the position," he said. "It was a tough decision but we felt comfortable with our decision."