Chief Deputy Harnen gives warning

by Martha Smith

Jackson County Corrections Deputies Matthew Myers and Zach Hatchett were awarded their certificates of completion and lapel pins from the National Institute of Jail Operations at the last Jackson County Commission work session held on February 18, 2020. Myers and Hatchett completed all four required classes and will now take this knowledge with them to the Jackson County Jail as an asset.

The Commission debated what to do with the old DHR building located at 205 Liberty Lane in Scottsboro. According to Commission Chairman Tim Guffey, the roof is leaking in several places, and the Commission can sell it or lease it. Guffey stated he would check on bids for repair versus replacement and see about advertising for a lease or sale. An update should be forthcoming next week.

The disbursement of funds from the Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT) was discussed. According to County Manager Bob Manning, an estimated $254,000 has come in so far. The Commission decided on earmarking the first $400,000 for Senior programs with the remainder going to the County Jail. This was moved to next week’s regular meeting agenda.

County Engineer Jonathan Campbell stated that in addition to other vacancies on the maintenance side of operations, the biggest concern is filling a position on the engineering side at Public Works. Currently, only two applicants were received to fill the EA-1 position. According to Campbell, training will have to start immediately along with required ALDOT certifications. One major component to the training is bridge inspection that can take up to five years to complete. This long process jeopardizes projects already set in motion and those that need to begin. Campbell stated that as of now, Public Works has been able to keep up with and stay current on all bridge inspection requirements, but it has been a challenge. The two applicants were moved to next week’s meeting.

Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen was present to sound an alarm for the Commission. Harnen stated, “I know that we have between four and five deputies right now that are actively looking for jobs. I expect two of those to be gone probably in the next month and a half. If we lose five people within a three or four month period of time, it will absolutely kill our patrol division. That’s one entire shift, so our options are basically not covering the county for a certain amount of time or having to pay overtime. As you know, it takes a while to get people trained through the academy. That could take us five months to get somebody up to speed and working. These people are leaving for money – not necessarily starting money – but guaranteed raises. If something doesn’t get done, we can count on not having a Sheriff’s Office within the next few years. I know it sounds like the sky is falling, but the sky is falling.”

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