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Light project would save $10,000 annually

Published October 17. 2013 05:00PM

Carbon County officials continue to look at ways to save on the energy bills at the prison.

During Wednesday's county prison board meeting, officials discussed the possible lighting retrofit project that has been in the works over the last year.

Charles Neff, maintenance supervisor at the prison, provided figures to do the project in-house, using numbers provided by John Sullivan from GE Lighting.

He said that the project, which would include retrofitting all interior lights at the Broad Mountain facility would save the county $10,959 annually. The estimated materials cost, minus Neff's labor, would be $15,155.02 and the estimated rebate from PPL is $11,082.

"The out-of-pocket cost would be $4,073," Neff said.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said the board needs to discuss the project more to see if retrofitting the prison with newer fluorescent lights is the right way to go.

He said that the board should look at the possibility of going to LED lights instead, pending on a savings evaluation. The cost for LEDs is more expensive in the short-term, but could possibly bring larger savings in the long run.

"I think we need someone to tell us if we're on the right course or not," O'Gurek said.

Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard, who has said in the past that he wants the project done in-house, agreed with O'Gurek, saying that LEDs could be the best route.

Robert Crampsie, chairman of the board and the county controller, asked if PPL could come in and do an energy assessment to see what the county needs.

Neff said he would call to see if that could be arranged.

In other matters, the board voted to enter into a new agreement with Oasis Inmate Commissary Services for services at the prison's store, pending solicitor Daniel Miscavige's evaluation of the new contract.

Prior to the vote, Warden Joseph Gross said that after investigating the subject, it was learned that the county was receiving a substantially lower commission rate than other facilities in the state. Carbon County was receiving 15 percent commission on all sales.

He spoke with representatives from Oasis and said that changes would need to be made or the county would not renew the contract in January.

Oasis representatives then came back with a new proposal, which stated the county would receive 35 percent commission; as well as a one-time initial $30,000 to place in the inmate commissary fund to offset any costs.

He urged the board to take the offer, stating that the prison has been very happy with the services provided.

The board also discussed the following items:

• The prison population continues to hover at full capacity. On Oct. 5 and 6, the daily inmate population was at its all-time high with 224 inmates.

• The overcrowding committee will meet to discuss potential solutions to the overcrowding problem at the prison. The meeting has been set for Nov. 5.

• Board members agreed that they are in favor of a memorandum of understanding agreement from the State Department of Corrections' Security Threat Group Division. The county has been working with the division regarding inmate identification markers such as tattoos.

• Changes to the contract for union staff meals at the prison will cost the county $600 for equipment. Gross explained that the 40 meals that must be provided to staff per the union contract are not being eaten by the staff. It was discussed installing a salad bar in place of those meals for those staff members.

• The board will ask the courts if something can be done to provide some kind of documentation on an inmate's sentence before a court order is signed in the event that the sentence occurs later in the afternoon or on Fridays. The reason is that prison staff cannot verify what the person's sentence is without a court order, and sometimes the orders are not signed by the judge until after the clerk of courts office is closed for the day.

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