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Another roadblock develops for proposed prerelease center

Published October 22. 2009 05:00PM

Another roadblock must be hurdled on the road to building a prerelease center on lands adjoining the state correctional institution near Frackville in Ryan Township.

At the monthly meeting of the Schuylkill County Prison Board held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville, President Judge William E. Baldwin, who serves as chairman of the board, said originally the state prison offered to connect the county's prerelease prison building to the state prison's sewer line but word was now received from the Pennsylvania Central Services Department, which owns the land, that it was not feasible because the capacity is filled. Baldwin said prison officials claim this is not true. Baldwin said a meeting has been scheduled with state officials in hopes of ironing out the problem. If the county has to install its own line it would prove costly because a pumping station would have to be built to pump the sewage up to the Frackville sewege plant and the cost is estimated at $300,000.

Two other costs were experienced. At the commissioners' work session, which preceded the prison board meeting, John Richmond, head of the adult probation office, claimed additional engineering fees of $25,000 will be needed to pay for the costs of utility extensions and another $8,990 is needed for test borings at the prerelease site.

Baldwin said the county received approval from the state legislature and governor's office to purchase a four acre tract of land adjoining the state prison in Ryan Township and soon the county will seek bids for the prerelease center. Baldwin warned if the bids come higher than his estimate then the project will be scrubbed. Minority Commissioner Frank Staudenmeier, who has been opposing the project because of costs, was not present at the meeting.

Prison report

Warden Eugene Berdanier gave his monthly report on the physical plant and costs of operation.

The expenditures for the month were $309,430.41 including $61,314.99 for health care of inmates. He reported on various maintenance work performed including installing a new clothes dryer, repairs to the front gate chain, installing four new file cabinets to secure inmate property and the boiler project and installation of a gas line were completed.

The prison population as of the report date was 240 males and 35 females. PrimeCare Medical Inc, Harrisburg, which provides health care at the prison, reported two patients needed hospitalization for several days, 85 were on sick call, 37 were seen by dentists and 16 were on suicide watch.

Joseph F. Huth, work release coordinator, reported all 32 beds in the work release section were filled. One male was removed from the program for violation of prison policy. Five females participated in the work policy. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program completed 24 jobs with four days spent providing service to 75 senior citizens and 15 community sevice jobs were completed.

At the recommended of Commissioner Mantura Gallagher, chairperson of the personal committee, the board hired Frank J. Hannis Jr., of Shenandoah Heights, as a correctional officer. He previously served as a juvenile correctional counselor supervisor at the Berks County Youth Center in Leesport.

Berdanier reported currently there were six officers off-duty on extended medical leave and two officers on restricted duty. He also reported attending a meeting to formulate and implement a plan in regards to the HINI (Swine Flu) virus and that the prison health care staff trained all prison staff and inmates on the general and prevention information.

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