LAWRENCE COUNTY Sheriff candidates plan new approach to job
Three Democrats and two Republicans are seeking nominations for the sheriff's race.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- There will be some big changes in store for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department -- no matter who wins the election.
The three Democrats and two Republicans seeking the post all say they have plans to run the office differently if elected.
Incumbent Sheriff Robert Clark said the office needs a better line of communication with the county courts.
Deputy sheriffs were ordered by the common pleas court's president judge recently to start transporting inmates to hearings at county district justice offices. Previously, that task was handled by police officers.
That change has wreaked havoc on the sheriff's department, giving deputies less than 24 hours' notice when they have to transport inmates, he said.
Clark wants to work out a new system to let his office know a few days in advance when a prisoner will need to be transported.
His Republican opponent Vern L. Eppinger, a former county commissioner, says he wants to make the sheriff's office more financially accountable and cost-efficient.
Eppinger said the sheriff's department was over budget last year. The county controller's office confirmed that an extra $32,000 was spent by the sheriff's office in 2000 for overtime.
Other plans: Candidates on the Democratic ticket say they have other plans for the sheriff's office.
Anthony Mangino Sr. and Frank W. Zona want to go after federal grants and make the office a full-service law enforcement agency.
The duties of the sheriff's office include transporting inmates to hearings, serving notices and issuing gun permits. Mangino said he wants to use the deputies to patrol streets in the county. Zona said he wants to check out federal grants that could pay for things such as a canine unit. The specially trained dog could then be used to assist other police agencies in the county, he said.
Closed-circuit hearings: Charles Adamo, a former Pennsylvania State Police trooper and county commissioner, said he supports having a closed-circuit television hook up from the county jail to courtrooms, which would enable the inmate to attend his hearing without being physically transported anywhere.
"This will save money in deputy man-hours, minimize disruption and increase safety to the courts," he said.
Adamo said he also would support more deputy training to allow them to make better use of the computer system to track warrants and unpaid fines.