Franklin County Today talks about the prison, the court house and the mass vaccination site

CHAMBERSBURG – Checking in with Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery Tuesday morning on First News resulted in a discussion about the Franklin County Prison, the schedule for the opening of the Court House and the mass vaccination clinic at the Chambersburg Mall.

When it comes to Franklin County Prison, they are slowly opening that up to visitors again.

“I get a lot of letters and phone calls from people that are associated with spouses or children in the prison,” Flannery said. “I get a lot of complaints that they are still on somewhat limited lock down at this point. We are opening that up as soon as we can. As well as work release. We have to be cautious and doing it slowly. Doing it the right way so we don’t have any problems moving forward. We don’t want to rush things too fast.”

A recent state inspection of the prison showed they passed with flying colors. The inspections include things like protocols, paperwork and cleanliness of the prison.

Flannery said, “We have a great warden. We have a great staff there. I’m happy to be a part of that. Our prison sets the example for the state of Pennsylvania.”

The inspections aren’t really announced or planned for. If they get a heads-up about it, it would only be a day’s notice.

There are 386 prisoners incarcerated in Franklin County as of last week. There are about 150 on payroll at the prison and 108 of those are guards.

In terms of the unveiling of the new Court House, it looks like it may be mid-September before they are ready to acquire an occupancy permit.

Flannery explained, “There’s a lot of security issues with the court house. There’s a lot of specialty equipment in this project. There’s some issues with some parts for elevators, door locks, things like that that have been pushed back. Those things have to be in place before we’re able to do that, before we’re able to transfer prisoners properly and safely.”

Flannery prides himself on engaging with the electorate and answering phone calls and questions that he receives.

He said, “I try to answer any email that I get or any phone call that I get. I think the public needs to be engaged with any elected official. We’re accountable. We’re elected officials and they expect a job from us and I take that very seriously.”

One of the issues the public has brought up is the mass vaccination site at the Chambersburg Mall and the money that was paid for it.

Flannery said, “Some of the similar counties in size to us – Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon, York – all had mass vaccination sites and they all have WellSpan as we do and we worked closely with WellSpan to give our citizens the opportunity to be able to go and get vaccinated. We even did walk-ins at one point without scheduling.”

Flannery said one of the most important jobs of a County Commissioner is to provide services to the residents of the county.

While the mass vaccination site did include a $6,000 a month lease as well as cleaning costs associated with it, those funds will be reimbursed through the FEMA public assistance grant.

“It’s not costing the county taxpayers any county money,” Flannery assured. “Of course this money comes from taxes. It comes from federal taxes. If we don’t apply for this grant, we don’t receive this grant, that money is going to go to another county in another state. It was in our best interest to be able to provide this service to our county residents instead of losing the opportunity to do so. I applaud those that took advantage of it. I think it’s a great service that we provided.”

The Franklin County Commissioners meet every Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and public comments are welcome.

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