New Castle News

Local News

January 17, 2013

Inmate exodus triggers jail budget dilemma

NEW CASTLE — The withdrawal of state inmates from the Lawrence County jail could poke a hole in the jail budget.

The county has prepared for some of that shortfall by putting more money into the contingency fund, according to Controller David Gettings. The question is whether it will be enough.

For the past couple of years, the county has been housing about 50 state inmates and collecting $50 per inmate per day.

But the exodus has caught the county by surprise, coming sooner than anticipated, and Gettings is hoping a new program of counties housing probation violators will fill the funding gaps.

Warden Brian Covert explained to the county prison board Wednesday that the state already is taking back its inmates.

State Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced Jan. 9 that state prisons in Westmoreland and Cambria counties would close by June 30 and a new prison with more space is opening in Centre County.

Last year, Lawrence County housed 50 to 55 state inmates, but now is down to 20, Covert said. He told the prison board he expects those to be gone during this calendar year.

Covert said that if the state houses parole violators here, the number the county will get, how much it will be paid and when that will happen are all unanswered questions.

“We are signed up for it with the state.” He added the state had proposed that because of the number of returnees, so the county jail numbers will be up again.

Several counties are interested in taking the probation violators, Covert said.

Gettings said he and the commissioners had heard of the forthcoming changes during budget time, and e county officials increased the contingency fund.

“We knew this might be an issue,” he said. “We put money in to make sure, and we hope it’s going to be enough.”

Last year, the contingency fund contained $285,454. For 2013, the county budgeted $700,000.

That $415,000 difference about half of what the county was projected to receive by housing 50 to 55 inmates. The amount anticipated for 2013 from state inmates was $800,000.

Gettings said no one expected the state inmates to be moved out so soon.

“We were told this was going to go on for most of 2013 and if it didn’t, it would be evened out by us getting some of the parolees,” he said. “We didn’t get the numbers on that because we didn’t think it was happening that quickly.”

The two prisons were announced after the budget was adopted.

“We were told we’d be one of the last ones to have prisoners taken away,” Gettings said. “Then all of a sudden, boom, here it comes.”

The county hopes to get 20 and 50 inmates in the parole program, he said, “but we don’t have anything in writing.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Author.tiff Arthur the author: Children’s writer/illustrator visits Neshannock Elementary

    A story about a grandmother and her granddaughter flying over a city grew from the vivid imagination of children’s author Arthur Dorros. “Abuela” also spurred the creativity of students at Neshannock Memorial Elementary School who had eagerly awaited a visit from Dorros yesterday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greer House changes name

    Greer House, a provider of assisted living services and care to seniors, has unveiled its new name. “We are thrilled about our new name — Clen-Moore Place,” said executive director Susan Leise, “because it better reflects our commitment to provide a vibrant environment where our residents thrive each and every day.

    April 16, 2014

  • Huston.jpg Greg Huston: Pirates pitching is porous and LeBron’s a phony

    The Buccos got swept this past weekend in their own personal house of horrors, otherwise known as Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Pirates will hover around .500 this year mainly because they do have some stars in Marte, McCutchen and Alvarez, and they play the right way with grit.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 01.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Students team up on paper pantry

    Food is not the only thing that sometimes is in short supply for those in need. With that in mind, students from seven Lawrence County high schools joined Westminster College sororities and fraternities Saturday in preparing a paper pantry for local residents.

    April 14, 2014 8 Photos

  • school.jpg Neshannock approves resignation, agreement, related legal fees

    The Neshannock school board accepted the resignation of business manager and board secretary Melissa Morosky Thursday. Morosky’s resignation is effective Wednesday.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solomon to head Warner advisers

    The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre has named Nanette Kaplan Solomon chairwoman of the board of advisers. Solomon is a New Castle resident and professor of piano at Slippery Rock University.

    April 12, 2014

  • Consultant hired for downtown riverwalk

    The city of New Castle has hired a consultant to plan a pedestrian riverwalk in the downtown. Council awarded a contract for $30,000 to Macking Engineering Co. of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

    April 12, 2014

  • New Visions slates downtown meetings

    The New Visions Clean and Green Action Team will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at the Confluence downtown. The Earth Day event in downtown New Castle April 26 will be discussed.

    April 12, 2014

  • money.jpg County seeks grant to plan for park upgrades

    A plan for upgrading six parks in Lawrence County hinges on a state grant. The commissioners Tuesday approved an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for matching greenways funds to create master plans for the parks, a venture estimated to cost $239,600.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mooney.jpg Mooney named as recipient of Butz Humanitarian award

    Anna Mary Mooney, a volunteer for several community organizations, will receive the 2014 Butz Humanitarian Award. Mooney will be honored at a dinner April 22 at The Villa in Shenango Township. She is the 15th person to receive the award, named after the original recipient, Jack Butz.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo