New Big Sandy Regional Jail Administrator “excited” about stepping into new role;
Fitzpatrick named Jail Administrator during a special called jail board meeting...
PAINTSVILLE -- Martin County native F.D. "Pete" Fitzpatrick was selected by a 5-3 vote of the Big Sandy Regional Jail Board in a special meeting last Thursday as its new administrator. The 10 member board had failed to select a new jail administrator at its regular June meeting. That vote ended in a 5-5 tie between Fitzpatrick and former KSP officer Randy Bowen of Louisa.
During the special meeting one member abstained and another refused to vote on the issue, The Paintsville Herald reported.
The position became available after administrator Randy Madan resigned last month but agreed to stay on until a replacement could be found.
“I am looking forward to it,” Fitzpatrick said Friday. “I am 54 now and I plan to work there until I am 62 and retire from there.”
When asked about any changes at the detention center, Fitzpatrick said “I believe the jail is heading in the right direction but, there is always room for improvements, I will be looking for ways to save money while meeting the needs of the jail staff and ensuring the inmates security.”
With the new title, Fitzpatrick will collect a $67,200 annual salary (the same as the current administrator.) Fitzpatrick said he is expected to sign his one-year contract on July 19.
Madan had taken over the position after then administrator Butch Williams was charged with and convicted of using the position for personal gain (a pickup truck was allegedly given to Williams in exchange for special treatment of a prisoner). By most accounts Madan had done a good job and the facility has had very little drug activity. But he clashed with some board members over policy and decided to retire. The board consists of members from Johnson, Lawrence, Martin and Magoffin Counties who share the financial burden of the jail, one of the first regional jails opened in the state in the early 1980's.
“I plan on starting the position about three weeks after I sign the contract,” Fitzpatrick added. “To give my current employer adequate notice.”
Fitzpatrick served as Martin County Chief Deputy from 1994 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2001, he acted as an Inez City Police Officer. He has also served as the Big Sandy Regional Jail Board Authority Chairman, Martin County Pride Coordinator, Board Member of Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, Board Member of the Martin County Ambulance Service, and has been Security Chief at Martin County Coal since 2001.
“With my background in supervision and budget development, I believe it will help me do a better job as a manager and administrator for the Jail,” Fitzpatrick said. “ If it can run in the family I should have no problems, my grandfather, grandmother and uncle were all elected and served terms as jailers in Martin County.”
Fitzpatrick’s law enforcement experience caused a great deal of controversy during several jail board meetings. Some members felt that Fitzpatrick’s experience didn’t meet the 10- year requirement that was set by the Board. While, Fitzpatrick had 8 years of experience directly as a paid officer, the remainder of his law enforcement experience came from his being a Special Deputy/Training Officer for current Martin County Sheriff Garmon Preece, since 2003. Some of the board wondered if he had gained all the necessary experience needed to fit the 10-year qualification.
Johnson County Jailer Doug Saylor said during an earlier June board meeting that he had been a card holding deputy and had gained the same if not more experience as a regular full-time deputy.
“The Attorney General acknowledges a Special Deputy as a Deputy,” board member and former Circuit Judge Steven "Nick" Frazier added during the same meeting. “Pete qualifies.“ Frazier then made a motion to hire Fitzpatrick, but the board hit a 5 to 5 deadlock. The board then attempted to hire Randy Bowen to the position, but again it reached a 5 to 5 stalemate.
Board members then called into question Chris Todd’s one-week appointment to the board. Todd had been appointed as a jail board member by Martin County Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham but not yet approved by the Martin County Fiscal Court. During the next June jail board meeting, Todd resigned his appointment and Martin County Deputy judge/executive Mike Crum was chosen to take his place.
In a phone interview Monday with The Lazer, Todd said, “I didn’t have the time for it,” adding that “it was too much controversy.”
When asked about Fitzpatrick being named administrator, Todd said, “I think he’ll make a good one.”
Here is how the board members voted on the issue:
Rick May, Lawrence County, no
Diane Watson, Lawrence County, abstain
James Kelly, Johnson County, left meeting prior to vote
Mike Crum, Martin County, replaced Chris Todd, yes
James Ayres, Martin County, replaced Pete Fitzpatrick, yes
Doug Saylor, Johnson County, yes
Stephen Nick Frazier, Johnson County, yes
Eric Grey, Johnson County, no
Scotty McCarty, Magoffin County, no
Jerry Helton, Magoffin County, no