By JANIE SLAVEN
WHITLEY CITY —
Upon returning to transport duties last week following an illness, McCreary County Jailer Tony Ball is seeking a set 12-hour shift.
The transport plan approved earlier this month by Fiscal Court following the closing of the local jail earlier this month called for Jailer Ball to be on call 24-hour Monday through Friday while serving as “second out” during the weekends.
Jailer Ball has told The Record, however, that he approached McCreary County Judge-Executive Doug Stephens about working a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift because of an inability to sleep while on call. Addressing the potential medical issue now would help ensure public safety, according to the jailer.
“I don’t want to risk an accident,” Ball said.
However, the transport plan is unlikely to be changed anytime soon.
“Cutting the on-call time in half would affect [Ball’s] actual work hours accordingly,” Stephens said. “It would kill our budget. There is no way we could survive that right now.”
Stephens said that Jailer Ball has agreed to make himself available and Ball did not indicate to The Record any intention to step down.
“I’m not ready to announce any future plans,” the jailer said. “Very few have shunned me. Most tell me I’ve been beat down so much. I’ve done the best job I can do with what I had to do with.”
Still Jailer Ball is aware of criticism, particularly online. But he questions why the Kentucky Department of Corrections isn’t doing more to help the county now that the jail has closed.
“DOC said they would work with us closely,” Jailer Ball said. “It seems like they’re trying to keep things from me. If we were shut down because I didn’t turn in my report when I was waiting on priorities from the county and state…I don’t think that’s enough of a reason.
“I think the jail should have been shut down a long time ago due to the conditions,” he continued, referring largely to electrical and plumbing needs. “I worked with what I had with virtually no help from the court but basic expenses.”
The December order from DOC focused on management issues rather than structural repairs.
Judge Stephens told The Record that while he has heard of a petition circulating to remove Jailer Ball, he has not seen it. The county, he said, had been advised by the Kentucky Department for Local Government that such action should only be taken in light of criminal charges.
“They see it as an attempt to undo the will of the people,” Judge Stephens said. “An alleged neglect of duty is not enough when it can be taken care of at the ballot box.”