Luzerne County’s prison system has reduced its correctional officer vacancies with several new hirings, the latest personnel report shows.
Five new officers were hired in October, although the net increase was four because one retired.
That leaves seven open positions, compared to 11 in July, said county Correctional Division Head Mark Rockovich.
The new officers, all hired at $15.09 per hour: Derek Alvarado, Derick Goliembeski, Michael Kocher, Neil Monseur and Dana Nickol.
Correctional officer Charles J. Smith Jr. retired.
Joseph Jacobs has been hired as chief deputy coroner, at $23.85 per hour, the report says. The position became vacant when Dennis Dobinick retired in August.
Jacobs will work under the new coroner, retired Pennsylvania State Police captain Frank Hacken.
County Manager C. David Pedri highlighted the coroner’s office during last week’s council meeting, saying operations have continued despite recent staffing turnover.
Pedri also addressed feedback he’s heard about the coroner’s inability to perform autopsies. He said a forensic pathologist must perform autopsies, and he does not believe the county could find one willing to serve as full-time coroner for the $63,000 compensation.
The county has been contracting out autopsies since the October 2005 death of George Hudock, a doctor and pathologist who had served as the county’s elected coroner since 1969, officials said.
Each autopsy costs the county around $2,500, and the office sought 43 autopsies this year to date for approximately $107,500.
The office budgeted $150,000 for autopsies this year and is seeking $10,000 less in 2020 due to a reduction in drug overdose deaths, officials said.
As of Friday, the county had 95 confirmed overdose deaths this year to date, with another eight pending toxicology results, records show. In comparison, there were 172 confirmed overdose deaths in 2018.
Four new workers were hired in the domestic relations office last month at the following hourly rates, the new report shows: support officers Craig Kittrick and Katelyn Meyers, $19.78, and clerks Susan Carey and Joleen Matchko, $13.30.
Ali Bonomo was hired as a treasurer’s office clerk at $12.75 per hour, and there are two new deputy sheriffs at $15.36 per hour — Christopher Davish and Anderson Glaude.
The other additions: Timothy Gogola, district attorney clerk, $14.17; Angelica Beaver, Children and Youth caseworker 1, $15.82; Michelle Lamarca, aging agency clerk, $12.93; and Bruce Yarmey, aging agency alternate senior center manager, $13.91.
Seven workers resigned in October: district justice clerk Jean Evans; budget/finance auditor Stacy Golightly; 911 telecommunicators Christopher Halecki and Breanna Walker; part-time district attorney adult victims witness coordinator Victoria Scavo, assistant public defender Giavanna Sico; and aging agency care manager Maryellen Stevens.
In addition to Smith, two workers retired — sheriff lieutenant Eric Aigeldinger and drug/alcohol case management specialist William Kimmel.
In addition to new coroner Hacken, who most recently worked as a county prison captain, several employees changed positions in October.
These workers, along with their new job titles and hourly pay: Brian Black, 911 training/quality assurance coordinator, $26.81; Lisa Calabro, Children and Youth caseworker 2, $19.02; Jacqueline Carroll, human services solicitor, $39.88; Paul Galante, Children and Youth attorney, $36.92; David Gaugler, Children and Youth program specialist, $25.84; Maria Graziano, Children and Youth caseworker supervisor, $23.08; Robert Hetro, prison records captain, $32.13; Joanna Jinks, sheriff lieutenant, $22.62; and John Maloney, court judicial assistant, $20.60.
County council will meet at 5 p.m. Monday at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, starting with a special voting session to approve a resolution opposing closure of the State Correctional Institution at Retreat, a state prison in Newport Township.
A review of the proposed district attorney and general government budgets will follow. A public budget hearing will then be held before council reviews the proposed human services budget.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.