SUNBURY — Reports that the staff of the Northumberland County Jail is down by 20 is not a “major concern” for Northumberland County Commissioner Chair Sam Schiccatano.

During Wednesday’s county prison board meeting, Warden Bruce Kovach announced the staff is currently down 20 officers.

“We are actively recruiting,” said Kovach, who attended the meeting by phone.

According to information contained in Kovach’s report, which was released during the meeting, the jail currently has 59 full-time officers and one part-time officer. In addition, two full-time records officers are employed, along with four administrative personnel.

As of April 6, the prison population was 194, with 162 men and 32 women. Of the 194, 14 inmates are being housed for Union County, 12 for Snyder, eight for Schuylkill and one for Columbia.

Following the meeting, Schiccatano said the jail has never had the 20 short staff members mentioned by Kovach.

“That’s a number that was brought up way back,” Schiccatano said. “We are down guards, we are down personnel. That’s mostly because... nobody’s applying.”

He said the jail is still able to operate well.

“We have run the prison successfully,” Schiccatano said. “Our prison population is down almost two-thirds to what it was.”

For March, Kovach reported the jail’s payroll was up by $4,000 over the prior month due to staff working overtime to cover vacant positions.

“I would like to bring my staffing numbers up to give my guys a break,” Kovach said. “My guys are working really hard for us.”

Kovach also reported that COVID-19 is under control among staff and inmates.

Currently, he said one inmate is in isolation due to testing positive. In addition, one corrections officer and three support staff are quarantined at home due to testing positive.

He explained that support staff consist of food service and medical providers who work for contractors.

“I feel we are doing a good job,” Kovach said. “Staff are doing a good job to keep things clean and sanitary.”

Commissioners Joe Klebon and Kym Best were both absent from the meeting, along with District Attorney Tony Matulewicz. Assistant District Attorney Richard Aime represented Matulewicz’ office at the meeting.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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