In Jan. 13 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
A lengthy first meeting of the new-term Russell County Fiscal Court and Judge-Executive Gary Robertson covered many topics of business and even included an hour and a half long executive session showing that the beginning of a new year will bring many challenges to our county's leaders.
New Russell County Jailer Bobby Dunbar told the magistrates that several employees of his jail staff have been receiving training at similar-sized facilities in Marion and Taylor counties while others, who some still need training, are working inside the new jail as it nears its opening.
Dunbar even said some of his employees, who are still transportation officers, had been putting in some time working at the local recycling center through the downtime from transporting.
Dunbar said members of the Department of Corrections, including several jail inspectors, are tentatively due to be in Russell County to go over numerous things inside the jail, including anchoring down of the beds.
He also told the court there were a number of files that had to be gone through and sorted out at the old jail before the state will allow the new jail to open. DOC training for the jail employees is slated for Jan. 31 through Feb. 4 while two other training sessions, one in Pulaski County and one in Rockcastle County will also soon be held.
A total of 124 inmates were housed in other facilities last month, including the Casey County Detention Center, on charges filed in Russell County. Jail fees were $380.17 with the total jail income at $4,464.24.
Robertson said the new Russell County Detention Center should be open and housing inmates in the next three to four weeks. Work on the facility is currently in its final stages.
In other happenings at the meeting:
• Bro. Tony Stephens gave an update on the transition house that will soon open in Russell Springs at the former Shiloh Motel, saying that construction was now finished on the facility.
"It is a quality facility and it looks very nice," he said. Stephens said he was appreciative of all the support of the previous fiscal court and former judge-executive Mickey Garner on the project and looked forward to continued support from the new administration.
"We've decided to call the facility The Inn," Stephens said. "Hopefully we'll have room for folks there who have need and we'll be able to encourage them as we move forward with this program."
Frank and Laura Lynch will be the on-site managers who will live at the facility, Stephens said. The couple will move in this weekend and applications for housing will be looked at and granted in the coming weeks.
"Each individual will be screened and assessed to make sure they meet the criteria of transitional housing," he said. "The goal with this facility is to move people from one place in life to a better place in life."
He said the maximum time someone can live at the facility is 12 months. The Russell County Emergency Shelter board and the Russell County Ministerial Association partnered in this venture.
o EMS Board Chairman James Gray gave an update to the fiscal court on the current condition of the ambulance service and what has taken place over the last six months by the EMS Board in shoring up their financials to provide continued solid service.
Gray said the merging of the ambulance service and 911 Dispatch was not good move financially for the ambulance service. He also said the move was not good from a management standpoint, causing a negative impact on employee morale in both agencies.
He said there were several steps in the right direction last year for the ambulance service, some of which included a 15 percent increase in collections, utilizing part-time employees in full-time positions in an effort to save money, reimplementing an employee evaluation system and developing an entry level pay scale for both EMTs and paramedics. Gray also said the ambulance service did not expand their tax base this past year as many other entities had.
o The court accepted the resignation of 911 Center Director Terra McQueary, who has accepted another position in a state agency and will move from Russell County following her last day on Jan. 31. The court also accepted to pay her for comp time.
o Robertson told the court that the local recycling center, from July 1, 2010 to Jan. 10, 2011, made $137,494.68 in receipts, expenditures totaled $139, 120.59.
"For six months we lost $1,625.91 total, which is about $250 a month," Robertson said. "To me, that is just like making money."
Magistrate Ronald Johnson said that anything near breaking even was a big savings to the county as more and more recyclables go through the local facility and less end up on the streets and in the ditchline.
o The fiscal court accepted the annual budget from Coroner Larry Skaggs at $1,900 less than it was a year ago. Skaggs is now working with just one deputy.
o The fiscal court appointed Wes Bottom as a board member to the local airport board after receiving a resignation from Denzil McGinnis. Bottom will serve through McGinnis' term through 2013.
o Robertson has implemented a sign-in sheet for public discussion at fiscal court meetings. Anyone that comes into a meeting with a problem or to discuss business will be required to leave their name, phone number and the matter they want to discuss. Robertson said following this, their item of business would be placed on the agenda and discussed during the meeting.
o The fiscal court spent approximately an hour and a half in executive session discussing personnel issues at the jail and possible litigation, according to Robertson.
David Milam of Branscum Construction along with a representative from the architectural firm that designed the jail also participated in a portion of the executive session. Asst. County Judge Chris Ramsey, County Attorney Kevin Shearer and Asst. County Attorney Don Byrom also participated in the closed session alongside the magistrates.
After returning to the open meeting, Robertson said "no action was taken," by the county leaders.