Local News

Story published: 05-14-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Asleep on the job?

By Karen Sells
Assistant Editor

Commissioner claims deputy in charge of inmates was ‘asleep,’ ‘snoring;’ sheriff says not a chance:

Washington County Commissioner Mark Ferguson called the inmates working on the downtown courthouse renovation “a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

Safety regulations at the site were again criticized during the May 8 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee.

Ferguson also warned committee members about a potential lawsuit during one of last month’s committee meetings after Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford said the inmates should be wearing hard hats and safety glasses and working with their shoelaces tied.

According to Ferguson, those measures have not been enforced.

County Attorney John Rambo said he would ask Safety Director Diane Lane to conduct an inspection.

“Is there any supervision up there?” Commissioner Alpha Bridger asked.

“Yes, but I was careful not to wake him,” said Ferguson, who made claims that when he visited the second floor earlier that day he found the deputy in charge of the inmates asleep and snoring. “So to answer your question, no.”

Bridger complained that safety issues should already have been addressed. “It’s never going to happen unless someone is in charge,” she said.

The next day, Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal disputed Ferguson’s claims following an in-house investigation.

Graybeal said the inmates wear helmets and goggles when required. While on break, they may loosen their boots. A deputy who is awake at all times supervises their work. “I just spoke with the mayor, and he says they’re doing a fantastic job,” Graybeal said.