|NorCo's New Director of Corrections, Dan Keen|
Keen has overseen a 474-bed facility at the Franklin County jail, located in Chambersburg, for the past three years. He began as a corrections officer in Clinton County in 2000. Since then, he's been at five different prison facilities, including a 1 1/2 year stint with the state, doing inspections of county jails. A Lock Haven high school graduate, he lacks a college degree. In a nervous and sometimes halting voice, Keen explained that he lost his football scholarship at Edinboro University when he was injured after completing nearly four years. But he has now resumed his studies and expects to graduate with a B.S. in criminal justice in the Spring of next year.
Keen comes highly recommended by the wardens at Clinton, Cambria and Pike Counties. According to Executive Brown, the nominee had been vetted by the Sheriff and the Courts, too. But he only gave Council four days to make a decision. Keen's name was submitted to council on Monday, with a request for a vote on Thursday.
This bothered both Phillips and McClure. Phillips threatened that, in the future, he will vote No as a protest vote to nominations that do not first go through Ken Kraft's Personnel Committee. McClure asked that the matter be tabled until the first meeting next year. "This is such an important job,"McClure reasoned, adding that Council should have "a little bit more than two days to vet the nominee, especially bringing the nominee in at such a high salary."
Along party lines, the table motion failed 5 to 3.
Scott Parsons was bothered by the starting salary of $100,237. "[W]e didn't give any raises to anybody", he observed, He added this sum is much higher than the $87,300 starting salary when recently retired Corrections Director Arnie Matos was hired in 2012. Bob Werner added, "We are reducing people's salaries here, we're reducing things throughout the County, and then we're giving someone maybe a 15-20% margin."
Executive Brown defended the higher salary. "I think he will demonstrate his worth in a very short period of time," he assured Council.."Our job was to find the best candidate that we could that is willing to take the helm of probably one of the most difficult institutions the County has to operate ..." He twice referred to the $13,000 difference in salaries as "a few dollars." he said Keen would "help restore our prison system. We are looking at it. We are looking at the administration."
Hayden Phillips is willing to pay the "few dollars" referred to by Brown, stating he has "high hopes." Peg Ferraro added, "We have hopes, too, of some major restructuring."
Parsons moved to reduce the starting salary to $87,300, but that failed in a 5-3 vote along party lines as well.
After being rebuffed in a motion to table as well as to reduce the salary, Democrats voted against Keen's hire
Blogger's Note: Updated from story published 12/11/14 @ 6:05 pm