Motorcycles, corrections employees recognized

LEWISTOWN – Noting the safety of all Pennsylvania motorists is an issue of the highest consequence, the Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a proclamation designating May 2013 as “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.”

“Motorcycle riding is a popular form of recreation and transportation for thousands of people across the Commonwealth and our nation,” Commissioner Mark Sunderland read from the proclamation. “In efforts to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation encourages all motorcyclists to take advantage of free training courses through Pennsylvania’s Motorcycle Safety Program. It is also especially important that the citizens of our Commonwealth be aware of motorcycles on the streets and highways and recognize the importance of staying alert, practicing safe driving techniques and promoting motorcycle safety.”

According to the proclamation, during the month of May, PennDOT, the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Dealers Association will continue their advocacy of motorcycle safety.

On hand Thursday to accept the proclamation were several members of the Mifflin County chapter of ABATE.

In other business, the commissioners adopted a second proclamation celebrating “Corrections Employee Week” which is recognized during the week of May 5-11.

According to the proclamation, Pennsylvania’s correctional system is the oldest in the nation and has become known as the leading influence in the development of penology.

“Today, Pennsylvania faces new challenges in corrections,” Sunderland read from the proclamation. “With 27 state correctional institutions, one motivational boot camp, a training academy, 15 community corrections centers and 39 contract facilities, 63 county prisons and jails and 15 federal facilities, our correctional facilities house more than 101,300 inmates.”

The proclamation notes the secure and safe operation and management of those facilities rests in the hands of more than 30,000 trained corrections professionals, including those who work in the Mifflin County Correctional Facility.

“Although each of these dedicated professionals work in a different field and specialize in a specific area, all are committed to a common goal: the secure, safe and humane operation of our county correctional facility,” Sunderland stated.

On hand to accept the proclamation was Jim Crisswell, deputy warden of the Mifflin County Correctional Facility.

“The corrections line of work is not really understood by the general public,” he said. “We have a lot of hard working people in our facilities in an often thankless job.”

“We have a good group of officers and staff at the prison,” Commissioner Otis Riden, alluding to the fact that the local facility has a long-running record of excellence with the state, noted, “Our record with the state inspections proves that. They’ve been sterling. That says something about our employees and I’m very proud of them.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners approved a request by Chief Probation Officer Larry Wolfe to submit an application for a Smart Probation Grant aimed at reducing prison populations, saving money and creating safer communities. The grant, if approved by the state’s Bureau of Justice Administration, would be for three years in the total amount of $629,462. Wolfe said the deadline to apply for the grant is Monday and there would be no county matching funds involved.

He added the grant is aimed at attempting to keep non-violent offenders out of the corrections system.

“Right now, Pennsylvania is experiencing too many people in prison,” he explained. “The bill for keeping that many people (incarcerated) is, quite simply, too high. This grant is directed at offenders with high risk and needs who have not been involved in violent offenses. Over time, based on evidence-based programming, it is shown that a large majority of offenders the grant targets can be safely supervised in the community as opposed to spending time in jail.

“The vast majority of people incarcerated for non-violent offenses are much better handled through tighter supervision in the community. It’s also geared to meet their specific needs. That way we can create safer communities while still maintaining a number of offenders in prison that is one way or another affordable.”

In other business Thursday, the commissioners:

Approved purchase of service agreements for use, if needed by Children & Youth, with George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania, Grove City, Pa.; Family Care Services Inc., Chambersburg; and PA Treatment & Healing, Turbotville, Pa.

Appointed Richard Freed of McVeytown to fill an unexpired term on the Mifflin County Library Board effective May 1.

Approved the hiring Sean Gingerich as a judicial law clerk effective May 20.

Accepted the resignation of Justin Dobson as a probation officer effective May 6.