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Ironton native now warden of federal pen

A career that began more than 25 years ago at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has taken a former Ironton resident across the country and back again and ultimately up the ladder to success.

Jerry Zuercher, 49, became the warden of the Pekin, Ill., Federal Correctional Institution in April.

The warden’s job is no 9-5 proposition: as the chief executive officer of the facility, Zuercher is responsible for a $40 million budget, supervision of all policies and procedures of the facility and supervision of a staff of 283. The prison houses 1,400 inmates.

“I’m humbled. I never dreamed (when I first began) that I would get to where I am. I am thankful to those who have supported me over the years,” Zuercher said.

After graduating from Marshall University, Zuercher got a job with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in 1981.

After two and a half years there, he took a job at the federal prison in Summit, Ky. Over the years he has advanced in a career that has taken him to federal facilities in Texas, North Carolina and even the supermax facility in Florence, Colo., that houses the likes of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

“This is for inmates who are considered the most dangerous and most prone to escape,” Zuercher said. “You know the type of people you’re dealing with and controls are in place so the staff and other inmates don’t get hurt.”

Zuercher and his wife, the former Kathy Jones, have three sons.