The coal boiler which heats the county prison continues to cause problems was the report Warden Eugene Berdanier gave members of the Schuylkill County Prison Board at their monthly meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

County maintenance employees were called to the prison four times in the past month to deal with problems. They had to clean boiler tubes and on two separate occasions the coal hopper was not being filled automatically. On another occasion the ash conveyor jammed. Public Works Director William Liptok assured the board the problems were caused by malfunctions and not by any vandalism.

Sewer blockage was repaired and found to be caused by pieces of pillow cases dropped in the system. Berdanier said the culprits were disciplined. An exterminator was called to deal with ant problems in two cell blocks which house female inmates and advised that the inmates stop storing food on their cell floors and on window sills.

Berdanier reminded the board the current contract with PrimeCare Medical Inc., which provides health care to inmates, will expire at the end of April. The board plans to negotiate an extension of the contract to the end of the year to see if plans proceed with constructing a pre-release center near Frackville to house non-violent inmates and relieve the cogestion in the county prison.

In January PrimeCare professionals treated 186 inmates on sick call, 56 were seen by psychiatrist, 170 by psychologists, 33 went to dentists with 11 having extractions and 16 were on suicide watch with no incidents. Patients on medicines is 21.4 percent of the prison population and 24.2 percent are on psychiatric medication.

The warden reported the current population was 195 males and 32 females. The cost for operating the prison for January was $276,516.15.

Nineteen inmates were housed in the work release block which allows those serving non-violent crimes to go to their jobs during the day but report to the prison at the end of their work day instead of going home. The county received $3,774 for their room and board and also collected $1,740 towards their fines and costs.

Inmates participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program completed 16 jobs during the month with five days spent providing service to 75 senior citizens as referred by the Office of Senior Services. In addition there were eight community service jobs and three jobs completed for the county.