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Chapman: Graner a model for community

By Staff | Oct 10, 2014

Mike Graner wasn’t joking when he told the Pierce County Commissioners that the state’s security audit is the first and last thing he sees at his desk each day.

When I stopped by Graner’s office Wednesday afternoon, sure enough the audit was propped above his keyboard and below the computer monitor. Graner, the administrator at Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center, recently received well-deserved high praise from the heads of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In 13 months since the DOCR handed down an 18-month noncompliance order at HACTC, Graner has led an impressive turnaround following last summer’s tumultuous sequence of events at the jail. One prisoner escaped the facility and another jumped from a transport van, seriously injuring himself. Two members of the administration were fired and Graner found himself taking charge as director of business operations.

Sheriff Matt Lunde, the overall authority at the jail, named Graner administrator (head of day-to-day operations) this summer.

At the Pierce County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Steve Engen of the DOCR informed the board of how impressed he is with the way Graner has led and turned the facility into one of the top-run jails in the state. Engen even said if he had the unfortunate experience of seeing a family member be incarcerated, he would hope that person’s sentence be served at HACTC.

Graner, ever-humble, was appreciative of the praise, but assured the commissioners that the security audit will remain in sight as he hopes HACTC?never has to see another year like the past one.

Misperceptions of the jail and how it operates cause unfortunate and ill-informed distractions to some in the community. That said, the community can feel very confident that regardless of who the sheriff is in the future, Graner will continue his great job at HACTC.

If you haven’t met Graner, I suggest you do. With a handful of local government leaders struggling with honesty and accountability, Graner should give us all hope. He got into the business to help treat people with drug and alcohol dependency – a job that requires sincerity. Graner is one of the more sincere people I’ve ever met. In a country with a broken prison system, Graner is one of the young leaders who can and will have a positive impact on the industry and inmates he works with.

Rugby and Pierce County should feel honored to have someone like Graner in such a vital security role.

Tough lesson learned

Four members of the Rugby City Council left Monday’s meeting disappointed at one portion of the 2015 budget, which was passed by a 5-4 vote.

Members felt certain city employees failed to earn the $2 raises they will receive. The dissenting voters are right, but more could have been done to prevent undeserved rewards. As a whole, the council failed to properly address and document a host of issues and as a result, left no other option but to go ahead with wage increases – without proper reviews done to assess merit.

The majority of hard-working people in the community have their performances reviewed each year by their companies’ management teams. How the city let such an important part of holding employees accountable is mind-boggling, but not surprising. Let’s hope the council members promising change follow through.

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