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County OKs administrator search

Report on padded cell at county jail

Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 1:19 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 16, 2014 1:21 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board has voted to go ahead with its search for a county administrator.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board decided to hire a facilitator to do the search, as it had done in 2005 when the county hired Austin Edmondson as its first administrator. After Edmonson’s resignation 15 months later, the county has not had an administrator since.

In her report Tuesday evening, Fees and Salaries Committee Chairman Marshann Entwhistle encouraged board members to contact committee members with their ideas or suggestions concerning hiring another county administrator and, if so, how to go about the search.

Board member Bob McCook recommended the county board discuss the topic that night and at least get a general consensus whether to pursue hiring an administrator.

In his comments, board member Tom Dobrich said the Finance Committee itself has discussed the issue quite a bit and sees the positives of having a county administrator to help run the county. His recommendation would be to hire a search firm to look for an administrator, Dobrich said.

After further discussion, the board approved a motion by Dobrich to go ahead and hire a firm to handle the search for an administrator. The motion was approved on voice vote, though not a unanimous one.

In other business, Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Kristi Warren gave an update on the extensive radio communication upgrade project, which is nearing completion and should be wrapped up within the next month.

She also reported money has been put into the sheriff’s department budget to build a padded cell at the county jail, at a cost of $15,755, because of the suicidal and mental issues of some inmates.

On Thursday, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said the padded cell has been completed and has been approved. The padded cell is the jail’s previously existing isolation cell, where homicidal or suicidal people are taken, or those inmates who fail to adapt to jail life for a variety of reasons. The padded cell provides another level of protection, the sheriff said.

Because the state and federal governments have failed to appropriate adequate mental health funding, the problem of mental health is going to continue to be an agonizing problem for a long time, including for county jails, Thompson said. The jails have become a catch-all facility for society, he said.

As he sees it, the county jail shouldn’t be responsible for people with mental health problems, but the jail often gets those people by default, Thompson said. These people are often incapable of functioning rationally, they may create some kind of disturbance, then someone calls the police on them, and they are brought to the jail until the courts release them. Without getting mental health services for these people, the cycle can begin again, he said.

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