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Workforce HACTC’s No. 1 asset

By Staff | Jan 10, 2014

Mike Graner, director of business operations at Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center, said the jail’s workforce is the “No. 1 asset.” Graner made the comment as part of his presentation at the Pierce County Board of Commissioners regular meeting on Tuesday.

Graner requested wage increases for 11 officers at HACTC, totalling an additional $9,000 for fiscal year 2014. District 1 Commissioner Joe Bohl suggested a review in July and proposed granting half of Graner’s request. The board unanimously approved Bohl’s suggestion and agreed with Graner that a 2 percent scale was appropriate for future wage increases for individuals.

“It can be done through evaluations, and based on performance,” Graner said. “It’s also going to be looked at when we hire new staff. Prior to this there was no rhyme or reason for wage increases and that’s what led to what a lot of people would say was unfair, inequitable-type of treatment. We’re trying to do the right thing.”

Graner also updated the board on improvements being made at the jail as it works to have it’s non-compliance order lifted by the state, following two prisoner escapes last year. The 18-month non-compliance order was issued in August. An audit was conducted in early September and the jail received many recommendations in October.

“In my opinion, the most responsible way to approach is that it will be for the full 18 months,” Graner said. “We will be in compliance well before that 18 months. I would say the security audit should be fully addressed by the end of this winter going into the spring.”

Graner said the facility will continue asking questions in order to ensure it’s meeting the state’s requirements and said the jail is about 30 percent done with major issues addressed.

Graner expects an increase of $170,000 in revenue from new contracts with the counties the jail serves as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Marshal Service. Graner listed the treatment center’s revival as critical to the HACTC success.

“We’re losing money and will continue to lose money until we get treatment,” Graner said. Once the jail is in compliance it will be able to take between 20 to 25 people for treatment. Graner was recently licensed to be a treatment counselor and has spoken with at least one tribe interested in using HACTC.

Darren Heidbreder, HACTC chief of security, discussed changes being made at the facility. Heidbreder is working to limit waste and discussed an abundance of malfunctioning security cameras previously set up around the facility. He said improper voltage for some cameras are related to the lack of video of one prisoner who escaped last year.

Pierce County Sheriff Matt Lunde introduced Jason Lux as deputy sheriff. Lux was previously with the Rugby Police Department.

Tax Director Kelsey Siegler recommended a 12 percent increase to the value per acre on agricultural land. The board approved the increase.

The board reviewed and approved two abatement applications and discussed a parcel that was not being taxed. Three years worth of taxes will need to be paid on parcel 04789-003.

Auditor Karin Fursather was advised to contact the EAPC architect to proceed with bid proposals for remodeling of the old jail for offices for the social services department.

Minutes from the December meeting were approved as were financials and the treasurer’s checks.

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