New handsets for all inmate telephones were installed to improve reception, Warden Eugene Berdanier informed the Schuylkill County Prison Board at its monthly meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Family members of inmates pay the costs for their use. Also necessary equipment and wiring for a new county phone system was being installed.

The total cost to operate the prison for September was $338,504.72. Overtime pay continued to remain high with $22,113.96 paid last month. Other major expenses were for professional services to provide health care, $61,338.24; groceries $23,581.20; water and sewer services, $13,518.75; clothing and bedding, $8,529.06; and materials and supplies, $9,717.49. The wages of correction officers was $194,419.29.

A new class room for inmates is being installed and the work release section is being renovated. A sewer pipe under the kitchen floor was repaired.

The current enrollment at the prison has 250 males and 47 females.

PrimeCare Medical Inc., which provides health care for the inmates, reported 259 inmates were on sick call, 200 were seen by psychiatrists, 35 visited dentists, and for the first time in a long period none were on suicide watch.

Berdanier reported the National Commission on Correctional Health Care awarded the county prison a "Certificate of Accredation" for its standard health care program.

Work Release Coordinator Joseph F. Huth reported 23 inmates are in the work release program from whom $4,003 was collected for room and board and $1,220 toward their court costs.

Ten inmates participated in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, including six females, who completed 27 jobs including three days spent providing service to 100 senior citizens referred by the Office of Senior Services and 10 community jobs and seven for the county.