FARMINGTON — Franklin County Commissioner Gary McGrane said he was unable to find anything in the state documents which states that the Department of Corrections considers a jail cook or cook supervisor essential personnel on a storm day.

Franklin County commissioners voted 2-1 on Jan. 4 to give compensation time to hourly, essential nonunion employees who have to work when county government is closed on storm days. Employees are paid for those days.

Chairman Clyde Barker of Strong and Charles Webster of Farmington voted in favor; McGrane of Jay opposed the move.

At the time, McGrane had asked for a copy of the Department of Corrections rules requiring a cook and cook supervisor to be at work to prepare food for inmates while other non-essential county offices are closed due to inclement weather.

McGrane said Tuesday that jail Administrator Doug Blauvelt had sent him the rules but he did not find that standard listed.

There are 265 standards, of which 136 are mandatory and 129 are essential, he said. It does not say that the cook and cook supervisor are essential, he said.

McGrane said he is concerned that other essential employees who are required to work when other county offices are closed would request compensation time in the next union contract if county government closes for the day or closes early. He is trying to save the taxpayers money, he explained.

Back when the jail was a 72-hour detention center, inmates were given frozen meals and other prepared foods, McGrane said. 

The jail was a 72-hour detention center from July 1, 2009, to mid April 2015, when it went back to full operations.

There were no requirements regarding what was served to inmates at that time, Blauvelt said.

Asked if corrections officers could prepare food and serve inmates, Blauvelt said they didn’t have the staff available to do so. They are also not ServSafe certified, he said.

Only three corrections officers are on duty for each shift and they each have specific duties, including being posted in the control room and booking room, as well as checking certain inmates every 15 minutes, depending on their classification, Blauvelt said during the meeting.

The average daily inmate population at the jail is 30, Blauvelt said.

The food is prepared fresh and is not frozen or made in advance in the event of a storm day, he said. Menus are drawn up ahead of time. The meals also have to served at certain temperatures under the state’s food service guidelines, he told commissioners.

According to the DOC’s policy on food service management, menus are required to be drawn up for six-week cycles in consultation with a department nutritionist or dietitian.

Every prisoner shall be provided with at least three meals during a 24-hour period. At least one of the three meals provided shall be hot, unless the behavior of the prisoner necessitates cold meals for safety reasons as provided by department policies for special management prisoners, the policy states.

No more than 14 hours shall elapse between the previous day’s evening meal and the next day’s breakfast. An administrative officer could authorize exceptions to time frames on weekends and holidays, provided that basic nutritional goals are met, according to the policy.

Frozen meals that were served to inmates while the jail was a 72-hour holding facility do not meet the state’s requirements of a balanced and nutritional meal, especially because of their sodium content, Blauvelt said.

We can’t abide by these mandatory or essential standards without our cooks,” he said. “We would be in violation of the standards.”

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steven Lowell said that giving compensation time during inclement weather could be resolved if Paragraph D under Inclement Weather in the Personnel Policy is deleted.

The section partially reads: “Employees are entitled to time off with pay only when all or part of the workday is officially canceled due to inclement weather.”

If an employee cannot make it to work because of weather, they could either not be paid for the day or use time they have available, such as accrued vacation time, county Clerk Julie Magoon said.

Commissioners will publicly review the Personnel Policy at a future meeting. They tabled the review of job descriptions and the policy on Tuesday.

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“We can’t abide by these mandatory or essential standards without our cooks,” said Franklin County jail Adminstrator Major Doug Blauvelt. “We would be in violation of the standards.”

Department of Corrections Jail Standards

  • M.5 — The food service area and food preparation should be managed under the direct supervision of a staff person who is qualified by experience and/or training.
  • M.7 — All meals should be served under the direct supervision of a staff member to prevent favoritism, careless serving and waste.
  • M.8, Mandatory — Three meals, at least one of which is hot, shall be served daily. There shall not be a span of more than 14 hours between the evening meal and breakfast.
  • M.18, Mandatory — A daily sanitation inspection of all food service areas and equipment shall be conducted by food service personnel. The results of this inspection shall be documented and kept on file for one year.

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