Commission gives jail administrator raise

Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Jail Administrator Keith Norwood will get a $1,500 raise and training he asked for but commissioners told him to pay for a concealed weapons permit himself.

The 4-1 decision was made Thursday during a regular Curry County Commission meeting.

“I too have a concealed carry permit (and) I’m an elected official, but I bought my own,” said Commissioner Wendell Bostwick, who asked the item be removed from the consent agenda.

“I applaud (Norwood for seeking the permit)… But I would like to keep hands off the concealed carry.”

Bostwick said he had concerns about possible legal implications from the county paying for the permit. Norwood’s position does not require the permit.

The vote in favor of paying for the permit came from Commissioner Bobby Sandoval.

“This is one of the things he asked for,” Sandoval said. “We agreed to everything else that he wanted — he’s done an excellent job.”

The $200 permit fee was one of four things Norwood asked for when his contract came up for automatic renewal after six months on the job.

Commissioners gave a 1.5 percent pay increase to county employees Dec. 21, meeting one of his requests.

The commission voted 3-2 against another recommendation by Bostwick to reduce the sizes of two citizens committees created to study courthouse and jail issues.

Bostwick and Commissioner Caleb Chandler gave the two supporting votes.

Bostwick, who said with a March 15 deadline for the committees to draft recommendations, there are concerns meetings are taking too long and lack direction. He recommended the committees cast secret ballots selecting five members from each group to continue serving.

There are 13 courthouse committee members and 11 on the jail committee.

“There’s a lot of people on here that have good ideas but the real challenge is getting 11 people to stay focused on the solutions that we’ve asked for… Because of the enormity and the personalities on the committees,” he said.

He also said some committee members are concerned about a decision Dec. 4 by the courthouse committee to open its meetings to the public.

The decision disregarded a directive by the commission to hold closed meetings with County Manager Lance Pyle as a non-voting chairman.

“They feel very inhibited when the press are there,” Bostwick said. “And we want them to bring (their progress and conclusions) back to us so we can discuss it before it gets to the press.”

Commissioner Bobby Sandoval too expressed frustration with the committee’s disregard for the guidelines it was given, but ultimately voted against the decision to downsize the committees.

“I have a big problem with the fact we charged these committees with certain rules (that were disregarded),” he said.

Commissioners Dan Stoddard and Frank Blackburn said they wanted to leave the committees the way they were and let them straighten out their issues.

“We have tons and tons of experience on these committees,” Blackburn said. “Let’s give ‘em a lot of rope.”

Chandler instructed Pyle to pass a message to committee members that while their service is appreciated, “those who wish to serve on these committees need to follow the guidelines” established by the commission.

The committees were created by the commission in response to a Nov. 2 voter rejection of two bonds aimed at building a $33 million courthouse and jail as part of an estimated $90 million judicial complex.