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County OKs Bryan Co. work detail
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More inmates from the Effingham County Prison will be put to work soon.

Effingham County commissioners approved an agreement for the prison to provide inmate labor to Bryan County. The pact is similar to the one commissioners approved with the city of Pembroke a year ago.

“The intent is to get as many out each day, with as little cost to us,” County Administrator David Crawley said. “The warden has been trying to get as many inmates out as he can each day. This agreement, as with Pembroke’s, would put a crew of inmate labor into Bryan County to help them with public works projects.”

Under the agreement, Bryan County would pay for the corrections officer needed to supervise the crew, transportation for the work detail and necessary equipment.

The county gets an additional officer for the prison that it does not pay for who can be used around the prison on weekends.

“Bryan County is benefiting, and we’re benefiting,” said warden Ronald Speirs. “It’s going to help bring back some of the revenue to Effingham County.”

The prison currently sends out about 160 to 170 inmates a day for various work details, according to Speirs. The prison can house up to 256 inmates and averages a population of 246 inmates.

Commissioners tabled a proposed mutual aid agreement with the Port Wentworth Fire Department. A written agreement with Port Wentworth does not exist now, Effingham County Fire Chief Val Ashcraft said.

“This document helps us understand costs if one department helps another and you have a flat tire or a ruptured piece of hose and who pays for it,” Ashcraft said. “This thing is designed to limit our risk.”

“It’s a way to indemnify the county if we’re asked to respond and help out Port Wentworth,” Crawley said, “and the same issue if they’re asked to help us.”

Ashcraft said other such proposals with other neighboring jurisdictions and their fire departments also are in the works, but the agreement with Port Wentworth matured first.

“There’s even one with Hampton County (in South Carolina),” he said. “It’s just working really slow.”

County attorney Eric Gotwalt had not reviewed the deal since he represents the county and also is Port Wentworth’s city attorney. He said similar agreements are circulating among other governments and every entity has requested a different set of changes.

Commissioners approved having Gotwalt review the proposal and are expected to address it at their Jan. 5 meeting.