County Commission Meets For April Voting Session – Sheriff McCoig Revokes Prisoner Agreement With School System

Director Finchum stated that the assumption was that the prisoners were long gone before anyone realized that they had escaped and the time for a lock down had passed.

Members of the Jefferson County Commission met last week for their regular voting meeting but it was not the handful of items on the agenda that brought the most discussion. A recent incident at White Pine School was the point of conversation at the Monday voting meeting of the legislative body. A citizen addressed the Commission regarding the escape of two prisoners from work release at White Pine School who stole a Department of Education truck and were apprehended the next day in Sevier County. Despite the fact that the escape happened during the school day, no lock down of the school was instigated. The citizen requested that the County Commission check into the incident and response from the school, as well as address the use of the funds that are saved by the Department of Education for using prison labor.

Both interim Director of Schools Finchum and Jefferson County Sheriff McCoig addressed the Commission about the escape and follow up actions. Sheriff McCoig stated that, per an official understanding with the Department of Education, prison labor that is loaned out to the Department of Education is supervised by Department of Education employees. He stated that he had addressed the issue with Facilities Director Michael Phagan and, in light of the recent prisoner escape, he had pulled all but three prison laborers from the Department of Education. The three remaining laborers will be washing buses but McCoig stated that he would pull those also if it is discovered that they are not being properly supervised. McCoig stated that when the escape occurred, he was at the hospital with his father. He received a call around 12:30 pm from school system employees regarding the escape and was told that he was the first call that was made. McCoig said that when the tape of the vehicle (left in a shopping center parking lot in Newport) being left was reviewed the time was a full hour before he was notified meaning the escape had to have taken place before 11:30am.

Director Finchum stated that the assumption was that the prisoners were long gone before anyone realized that they had escaped and the time for a lock down had passed. She stated that she is in the process of determining just what occurred and the time line from various Department of Education employees. Commission Solomon called for disciplinary action for those responsible for the opportunity for escape and Director Finchum stated that she will make reports that are not conflicting with the rights of employees available for the County Commission to view.

County Commissioner Carmichael spoke as a citizen to represent a person in his district that said they had a problem with a local candidate regarding placement of signage. The citizen did not appear in person before the County Commission and Sheriff McCoig addressed the incident claim as one of many that filled out everyday for everything from missing cats to theft. He stated that any further action on the claim would require movement on the part of the citizen and that an incident report is not an indictment of any party. County Commission Chair Tucker stepped away from the Chair to address the incident claim, stating that it was likely that the signage was his but that the citizen complaint was handled quickly and politely. Some members mentioned forwarding the issue to the ethics committee but no motion was made and the County Commission moved on to business on the agenda, with Chair Tucker resuming the Chair.

In regular business, the County Commission approved several budget amendments, which were mostly along the lines of general housekeeping, as well as placement of the Library Board. They also approved four resolutions, with one of those being for rezoning, another for grant application and one for surplus. The Jefferson County Budget Committee will continue with budget season meetings on Monday, April 23, 2018 at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse where they will address non profit funding requests.

Source: Director Finchum stated that the assumption was that the prisoners were long gone before anyone realized that they had escaped and the time for a lock down had passed.

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014

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