Yates Jail program recognized

Gwen Chamberlain
Accepting certificates for their work on the jail accreditation were (from left) Jail Nurse Erica Verdeham, Undersheriff Jack Gleason, Sheriff Ron Spike with Peter Kehoe, Esq., Sergeant Jared Bailey, Lt. Clay Rugar and consultant Michelle Wordan.

With the accreditation of the Yates County Jail, the Yates County Sheriff’s Office is now one of just four counties in the state that has accreditation for all five areas (Court Security, Civil Division, Public Safety Answering Center, Law Enforcement and Jail).

At Monday’s Yates County Legislature meeting, Sheriff Ron Spike and several members of the Sheriff’s Office jail staff were recognized for meeting or exceeding the 166 individual standards required for accreditation.

“Corrections officers are unsung heroes,” said Peter Kehoe, Esq. executive director of the New York State Sheriff’s Association, adding, “It’s a tough job and we owe them gratitude for doing it and doing it right.”

Yates County’s jail program is the 27th of New York’s 62 county jails to become accredited by meeting the 166 professional standards and New York State Corrections Law rules.

Kehoe said the accreditation would not be possible without the financial and moral support of the legislature, and the achievement would not be possible without the citizen support of the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Ron Spike noted that the current legislative chambers, in the former county courthouse, sit on the site where the county’s first jail was located.

In 2011, the jail admitted 486 inmates, the highest number ever, said Spike. Last year also saw the largest number of females admitted to the jail — 100.

Corrections Officers made over 400 transfers for court appearances, oversaw 6,700 visitors to inmates, and served 58,000 meals in 2011, according to Spike.

While the jail’s budget was more than $3 million, its revenues in 2011 totaled $306,000.

Spike says in the jail setting, every position must be accountable for the minimum New York State standards, and added, “If it can happen it will, and I can tell you in a jail, it will happen.”

Spike says having programs accredited reduces risks, improves readiness, and insures practices meet civil rights and medical standards of care are met.

He said it is also an avenue for employee pride, which is sometimes difficult to achieve in a jail setting.

He thanked the legislators for their support, saying, “I know sometimes the message I give you (in public safety committee meetings) is not always the one you want to hear.”

Legislative Chairman Taylor Fitch and Legislator Donna Alexander, chair of the Public Safety Committee complimented Spike and the jail employees for their efforts. Alexander said, “We do appreciate all you do.”

Other business at Monday’s legislature meeting included:

• ELECTIVE OFFICE VACANCIES: Following a public hearing during which there were no comments, the legislators approved a local law that vacant legislators, treasurer and coroner  officers can be filled by appointments by the legislature.

• NOTICE OF CLAIM: The legislators adopted a resolution in opposition to proposed state legislation that would permit the filing of notices of claim against local governments with the Secretary of State, as opposed to the local governments themselves. “It’s just not right. We already have enough litigation. To make it possible to expand that is wrong. What we have now is working. Here again, the state is taking local control away from the counties. We continue to say this, but it falls in deaf ears,” said Fitch.

• COURT SECURITY: Legislators authorized Spike to sign an agreement with the Unified Court System increasing revenue for the Court Security system by $334,991 for 2012-2013 period. Administrator Sarah Purdy explains that this increase is tied to annual operating costs. Next year’s revenue is based on this year’s costs.

• 911 DISPATCHER: Legislators agreed to hire a full time dispatcher to replace a dispatcher who is resigning. They also agreed to establish a part time dispatcher position to help decrease the need for overtime.

• RUNWAY: Legislators approved an agreement with Passero Associates for engineering design services for rehabilitation of Runway 1-19. Yates County’s share of the project is 5 percent, or $7,505 of the $150,100 cost which is largely covered by a grant from the FAA.

• DEPUTY TREASURER: The legislators approved a resolution recognizing Eileen Knaus for her 32 years of service to the county treasurer’s office. She has been employed in the office since 1984, and was appointed deputy treasurer in 1994. Knauss is retiring soon.