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GREENVILLE, PA. Jail takeover means 6 will lose their jobs



Published: Thu, May 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The dispatchers could get work as on-call jail attendants for COG.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

GREENVILLE, Pa. -- The borough's six part-time police dispatchers/jail attendants will lose their jobs when the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments takes over operation of the municipal jail.

The borough asked COG to take over, saying that it can no longer afford to keep it open.

Greenville, with a budget deficit of more than $1 million, is rapidly running out of jail operating funds.

"We're running out of money to keep our dispatchers," said Thomas Strahler, acting police chief, noting those jobs will be eliminated as soon as COG can begin running the jail.

Yearly costs

The cost to run the jail is about $36,000 a year and that covers the part-time dispatchers who double as jail attendants at or near minimum-wage rates, he said.

It doesn't include a full-time police clerk who won't be affected by COG taking over the jail.

James DeCapua, COG executive director, said his executive board approved the plan Tuesday.

He said the plan is to run it much as COG runs the Shenango Valley Regional Lock-Up in the Farrell municipal building. COG took over that jail in 1994, converting it into a regional jail.

COG uses police clerks and on-call jail attendants to monitor prisoners, paying them at or near minimum wage, he said.

Police departments who house prisoners there pay an $8 per hour service fee, he said.

Greenville will be run in the same manner, although a fee hasn't been set yet, he said.

Besides Greenville-West Salem police, Hempfield and Pymatuning Township police agencies as well as the Mercer County sheriff's office and state police use the Greenville jail.

Will seek state grants

DeCapua said he will apply for state grants to help make some much-needed renovations at the jail, which can house up to nine people at a time.

He estimated that cost at between $125,000 and $150,000. He will seek a state Shared Municipal Services grant to help cover the cost and also may go after a state Act 47 grant available only to municipalities deemed to be financially distressed by the state.

Greenville is in the process of Act 47 assessment now.

DeCapua said COG will be looking for on-call jail attendants in Greenville, and Strahler said the dispatchers who are losing their jobs could apply for those positions.

Greenville asked that COG take over the jail as of Friday, but DeCapua said it may not occur that quickly. Some arrangements for staffing have to be made first, he said.

gwin@vindy.com




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