County Board Approves E-Cig Policy For Jail
The Newaygo County Board of Commissioners authorized the implementation of an Electronic Cigarette Policy within the county jail at their regular meeting on April 26 paving the way for the use of e-cigarettes by jail inmates.
The motion passed by a 6-1 margin with Commissioner Vern Willett casting a dissenting vote along with the doubts he has regarding the new initiative.
“I totally oppose this,” Mr. Willett stated.”People who are put in jail are put there for a reason.If they can’t get things together for themselves in jail they probably won’t when they get out.”
Commissioner Willett’s concerns centered on the introduction of these creating a potential route for contraband.
Commissioner Brian Kolk responded by stating the program would...
...be controlled by the Sheriff’s Department through a reputable company and outlined the safeguards in place to prevent contraband. He added the possibility of the products providing a revenue stream from the sales. Mr. Kolk also spoke to the impact on behavior among inmates possibly going through withdrawal and the subsequent problems this can cause in the jail.
Commissioner Phil Deur supported the statements made by Commissioner Kolk referring to Mr. Kolk’s experience as a corrections officer, adding that other systems currently use it and that he would support it even if it were revenue neutral.
Commissioner Jim Maike also expressed support for the policy stating “You can’t just cut them off from everything.”
Board Chair Pat Gardner and Commissioner Willett exchanged differing opinions regarding the matter with Mr. Willett asking if the board was aware of what the county’s attorney opinion had been regarding the possibility of second hand smoke.
Mr. Kolk referred to the attorney’s statements regarding second hand smoke and explained some aspects of the e-cigarettes and Mr. Deur stated “Even the FDA can’t address if the chemicals in these e-cigs are harmful. If down the road this changes we can look at the policy then.”
The motion was passed 6-1 with Mr. Willett opposing.
Commissioners also heard from candidates for the Area Agency on Aging, Commission on Aging and Mental Health boards.
Donna VanderVries Equalization Director delivered a report and responded to questions about a recent issue that caused the county to have to re-send information to residents. Ms VanderVries outlined the steps that have been taken to ensure no similar problems would occur.
Health Officer Kevin Hughes of District Health Department #10 delivered the annual Public Health Update.Mr. Hughes pointed to the ongoing problem of Smoking During Pregnancy.
"Our (The ten counties of District #10) rates in this area are atrocious,” he stated.”They’ve been elevated for quite some time and we’re working on it but this issue has so many pieces to it."
Copies of the annual report with a breakdown of behavioral risk factors can be accessed at http://www.dhd10.org/about-us/annual-reports/
The board unanimously approved appointing Michelle Kuikstra to the Jury Board vacancy.
The board also approved staffing changes in the Sheriff’s Department manning table that will create the position of Corrections Lieutenant and Chief Deputy Officer while eliminating the positions of Jail Administrator, Assistant Jail Administrator and Road Patrol Lieutenant.
Commissioner Kolk explained this would streamline the department staffing and increase efficiencies. Commissioner Willett inquired as to the financial savings associated with this and Administrator Chris Wren gave some estimates cautioning that the amount would depend on other budgetary factors.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be Wednesday May 10th at 9:30am.