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Cumberland Board Hears Jail's Request

CUMBERLAND – The Piedmont Regional Jail can count on Cumberland County for additional funding in the event it's needed during the 2012-2013 fiscal year. That decision was made during the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 10 after Supervisor Parker Wheeler, District Five, who also sits on the Jail Board, presented the request for consideration.

“What they are asking is for the Counties to set back-they are not asking for them to have it-they are asking for them to set back the monies in the budget in case they do have to have it,” he informed the board about the jail's possible financial request.

According to the information provided, Cumberland's contribution share is 6.7 percent, or 37 inmates.

Amelia County's average inmate population, as stated in numbers provided from 2011, is 67 inmates; Buckingham's is 62; Lunenburg's is 67; Nottoway's is 115; and Prince Edward's is 208.

Cumberland's share requested, in terms of being set aside, not given to the jail, is $26,800, according to the information provided.
“For the past 24 years, they have given the six counties a free ride,” he said.

“They are not making the money like they were before and they are the only jail in the state that operates such as they do without counting on the counties to give them money,” said Wheeler. “Right now, they are billing the County, per day, per inmate, $1.10. Actually, the rate should be $36 per day.”

The six counties, by law, are required to actually contribute one-sixth of whatever it costs to run the jail, according to Wheeler.

“For 24 years there has been nothing,” he said. “They've had a rough time and they've lost some contracts and they've changed some other contracts. As well, one-sixth of medical bills are required by state law, one-sixth of maintenance is required by state law-so far they've been able to alleviate all of that.”

He continued about the request, “We are the lowest on the totem pole.”

After the presentation, Cumberland's board agreed to cross that bridge when needed and consider offering assistance to Piedmont Regional Jail when officially asked.

“We'll deal with it if and when it comes up,” said Supervisor Bill Osl, District One.

Wheeler responded, “If and when it comes up we can appropriate the money, yes.”

DSS Food Commodity Request

The supervisors are also currently acting in a 'sit back and wait' mode in relation to the Department of Social Services' food commodity program.

The department has distributed once a month for approximately 20 years and has recently been unable to secure USDA food from the Central Virginia Food Bank and FEMA grants to supplement the program, which is not a state regulation.

The food commodity program has been limping along, in part, with assistance from sponsors and donations from within and outside the Cumberland community, according to Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three.

Ingle also sits on Cumberland's Social Services Board.

Each month approximately 200 people take advantage of the food commodity program, including elderly and disabled Cumberland residents, he said.

On a request from the Social Services Board, Karen Blackwell, director, has asked that the board consider setting aside a monthly allotment which could be dipped into by the Department in the event donations are not adequate enough to meet the needs of the commodity food program for a certain month.

“I am respectfully requesting to the Board of Supervisors if a monthly allotment can be made to the Department of Social Services to assist in the continued efforts of providing food to those in need. Any amount of money would be appreciated,” stated Blackwell in her letter to the board.

Since receiving the letter from Social Services, Ingle noted, donations have been coming in to supplement the program's need.

“I don't mean to push it off for another month but I think this month they are able to provide the food but I still think the Board should still consider a small allocation-a couple of hundred dollars, maybe-in the event that their donations aren't adequate enough to be able to provide the food,” said Ingle in his update.

He also noted that the board could be “something for them to fall back on.”

“That also reaches out to the people who are shut-in… We can't allow this program to fail. I'd like to ask us to reconsider this at next month's meeting,” continued Ingle. “I'd like to find out exactly what's needed with the other donations coming in…It's an informal way of being able to help people that really need it.”