MARINETTE — One issue the staff at the Marinette County Jail has struggled to cope with in the past continued to improve in July while another one has re-emerged, the county board’s Public Services Committee was told Tuesday.

The number of inmates in the 165-bed facility dipped in July to about 109, compared to 119 in the same month a year ago, while the amount of corrections officers vacancies rose.

“We are three employees down, soon to be four,” said Jail Administrator Bob Majewski. “The ad for the positions was in the paper (as well as online) and the resumes are supposed to be in to HR (Human Resources) by the end of today.

“Hopefully we’ll get those (applications) soon and we’ll have interviews and then training can start.”

Supervisor Gina Deschane asked Majewski why corrections officers are resigning?

Majewski said the reasons for the current departures include one officer leaving to get a job with her college degree and another resigned due to a better job offer with better hours.

He was asked by Supervisor Laura Frea if the county could hire retirees or other people to work part-time.

“We don’t have any part-timers,” Majewski said.

“We discussed that some years ago and apparently it never went anyplace,” said Supervisor Ken Keller, committee chairperson.

“It would be nice if you had some people you could call if someone was sick,” Deschane said.

Sheriff Jerry Sauve said it would be nice (to have part-timers) but we can’t seem to fill the needed people and retain them. That’s the challenge.”

“A long time ago we had half-time people,” Majewski said. “It was hard to recruit people to work 20 hours a week or so. It was hard to get people to want to do that.

“We changed it to 40 hours and now it’s getting hard to keep those people because a lot of them want to have normal lives.”

“We certainly don’t have the market cornered on this issue,” Sauve said. “This is an issue statewide and nationwide. It’s a tough position to recruit for.”

The sheriff said the last time his department sought to recruit corrections officers “we were pleasantly surprised to have the quality of applicants we had. I’m hoping that we see this again and we’re able to find some good ones again. That’s what we have to be hopeful for.”

“The challenge is we’re going to need four people off of this list (of applicants),” Sauve said. “Then select and then train them. We have our challenges here.”

Majewski stressed the need for corrections officers to have time off and not work too much overtime.

Frea said statistics show that it can be dangerous for people to work overtime.

“That’s why we don’t have over 16 hours of work without a break,” Majewski said. “There has to be some type of emergency to have more than that. We’re very careful with that.”

“Even 16 hours is a lot,” Frea said.

Supervisor Glenn Broderick asked what kind of hours off do corrections officers get?

“The jail officers mainly work 2 days on, 2 days off and 3 days on,” Majewski said. “Sergeants work 3 on and 3 off. Then we have some that are on eight hours Monday through Friday.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

¦ Sauve updated the committee on the effort to resolve the safety problems with the shooting range in the Town of Peshtigo that led to it being closed indefinitely last month. 

He said his department’s recreation patrol officer has been very active with Department of Natural Resources wardens in the investigation of what led to the closure of the range and what safety improvements can be made.

“We’re continuing to work with them and hope to have a resolution for that by fall,” the sheriff said. “The DNR is really on that and wasting no time working on that.”

The range off of Hipke Road was closed by the town board in conjunction with DNR after reports of errant bullets by nearby boaters and owners of homes.

¦ The committee was told in a report in its meeting packet that in July the sheriff’s deputy recreation officer issued 20 citations and 13 warnings to ATV users, and 16 citations and 10 warnings to boaters, and that there was was one fatal ATV crash and four other reported crashes.

“July has been my busiest month by far in complaints,” said the recreation officer report, noting there have been constant reports of ATVs riding on roadways not open to ATVs, speeding and reckless driving.

“(There were) 29 (ATV-related) complaints total and many other verbal complaints,” the report said. “Boating has had issues with moved or stolen buoys at Twin Bridge County Park and no-wake complaints from different waterways as well.”