LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County Prison Board decided to promote from within Wednesday, and unanimously selected Deputy Warden Jackie Motter as the new warden of the Clinton County Correctional Facility.
Motter was hired as the local prison's lead administrator from a field of more than a dozen candidates.
The hiring followed the dismissal of former warden Tom Duran, whose contract was terminated, effective Nov. 5, after the county prison board voted 5-1 to suspend the long-time prison administrator.
The decision to promote Motter occurred within minutes of the opening of the prison board's special meeting yesterday.
"Thank you for this opportunity," Motter told the board after the vote. "It will be my privilege to lead a team of dedicated staff, program personnel and volunteers ... I will do my best to ensure the public's safety and the safety of the staff and inmates."
Following the promotion, the board also appointed Capt. Wayne Bechdel as deputy warden of the facility.
The board decided not to fill the now-vacant captain's position, a move that could save the facility some $53,627 in 2013.
Motter's salary was set at $56,308, a savings of $12,000 over Duran's wages, not counting benefits in either case.
Prison Board Chairman and county Commissioner Jeff Snyder said there wasn't any certainty in the early going of the selection process, but Motter proved to have the right mix of training and experience sought by the selection committee and board.
"It's our belief she will be able to move the prison along accompanying the changes we know are coming, including the loss of Department of Corrections inmates, the continuing issues with the cost of health care and the rising expense of the prison itself," Snyder said.
Motter started in the field at the local lockup in January 1991 as a corrections officer and was interviewed at the old county jail in Lock Haven before being hired by the late warden, Arwyn Reish.
She began that work even as a former board of commissioners and prison officials ushered in a new era of corrections, with a massive construction project in 1991 to build a modern prison.
With the addition built in 2003, the facility now has an inmate capacity of a bit more than 300 and requires a correctional staff of 70, including officers and office personnel.
Motter was promoted to lieutenant in 1993 and was named deputy warden in 2000.
Duran's termination came amid a number of issues raised at prison board meetings earlier this year, signaling an increased concern about finances and the direction the jail operation might take in coming years.
The board is expecting a substantial increase in the prison's financial burden to county government in 2013, in the neighborhood of $3.16 million.
Motter takes charge of a facility that frequently has depended on housing of out-of-county inmates to offset the costs of running the jail. In more recent times, the number of state inmates housed locally has decreased, as the Department of Corrections brings more state facilities into the mix.
Motter is married to Phillip Motter, who works at Lock Haven University. The couple have two children.
"Tom Duran was always a corrections professional and he knew all the latest technology," Motter said. "He always encouraged career development and for that I will be grateful ... I'm more on the treatment side in my experience."
She said that during her tenure, she will continue to emphasize the entire community has a responsibility to see that any inmates being returned to society are prepared for the journey.