WEDOWEE - With construction of the county's new jail in the home stretch toward completion, the county has turned its attention to the details of opening and running the new facility.
To that end, Randolph County Commission listened to a staffing plan for the new jail presented by JMR+H Architecture senior partner Mike Rutland at Monday's commission meeting.
JMR+H designed the new jail and has provided hands-on guidance to the county throughout the construction process.
Rutland presented a detailed staffing plan that outlined the number of employees the jail would need, what those positions would be and the way the employees' schedules would work.
Rutland made it clear to the commission that his plan was meant as a starting point for discussion and that the county and the sheriff's department have the final say in customizing the plan to their needs.
The current Randolph County Jail has a staff of 18 people. According to Rutland, a minimum of 19 people would be needed to fully staff the new facility. But that number represents something of a bare-bones crew as it does not include a full-time maintenance person or food-service personnel, and it leaves some areas with just one staff member where two or more would be ideal.
That puts the optimal number at 22, which means the county would have to hire four new employees or cross-train a handful of sheriff's deputies to bridge the personnel gap.
Rutland cautioned against the temptation to go with a smaller staff as a cost-cutting measure, stating that limited personnel almost always leads to greater expense because of the additional overtime pay required.
That message seemed to hit home with Commissioners Doyle Allen and Derek Farr, who spoke in support of adding the necessary staff positions as soon as the new jail opens. Allen also mentioned the need for across-the-board pay increases for jail staff as a way to help with employee retention.