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Sheriff lays off two part-time employees

Two part-time employees with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office are now out of work after they were given notices Friday in an attempt by Sheriff Jeff Lawless to make budget ends meet until the end of the year.

“I gave layoff notices to two part-time employees in an attempt to salvage to the end of the year for gas in cars and food for the jail,” Lawless said.

Receiving the notices were Dean Palmer, who oversaw the jail and the road deputies, and Quincy Milem, who oversaw the road deputies and the overtime budget. Palmer worked 24 hours a week; Milem worked 16 hours a week.

Those layoffs will save about $10,000.

“I hope to get them back to work,” Lawless said.

At the Lawrence County Commissioners’ Oct. 18 meeting, Lawless requested $80,000 from the commissioners for his supplies fund that pays for food and medicine for the jail and gasoline for the sheriff’s cruisers.

At that time the sheriff’s office had an outstanding bill from a local pharmacy for $1,232 to cover medications for jail inmates.

On Friday that bill had gone up to $1,500.

“The bills are coming in daily,” Lawless said. “Gasoline is paid up. When they send us a bill for this month, if we can’t pay, they will turn our gas cards off.”

Average monthly expense for medications for inmates is $1,200. That covers a range from pre-natal vitamins to diabetic medications and supplies to psychotic drugs prescribed for the inmates by physicians.

This summer jail inmate Ashley Seagraves, who is facing murder charges, gave birth to a son while in custody. The bill for that pregnancy was approximately $26,000 and the responsibility of the sheriff’s office.

In 2012, the sheriff’s office started with a total budget of $3,302,254 with $305,000 of that allotted for running the jail. For the supplies account $287,560 was appropriated. However, that amount was reduced by almost $10,000 to cover bills from the previous year.

At the Oct. 18 meeting Commission President Les Boggs told the sheriff that the commission would discuss options with him later in a private meeting.

Lawless said on Friday that meeting has not happened yet.

“I understand the county is in a bad shape,” the sheriff said. “The commissioners are trying to do the best for every officeholder. I know they are working well for a solution. I have to gear up for what may come.”

Calls made to Boggs were not returned by press time.