pastor and jail visitation

1000 Hills Ranch Church Pastor John Paul (holding cowboy hat) visited with the Board of Woodward County Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday morning at the courthouse about clergy jail visitations. (Photo by Dawnita Fogleman)

The Board of Woodward County Commissioners had a short meeting Monday morning with most of the time taken by new and unforeseen business.

In new business, 1000 Hills Ranch Church Pastor John Paul visited with the board for support in discussing with the Sheriff’s office about changing a rule concerning timely clergy visitation with inmates in the county jail.

“I think it's a bad rule,” Paul said. “If there's somebody in lockup that has clergy (and) that clergy can visit with them, and if there was ever a time where they'd be in a spot, perhaps to see a better way (then) that'd be a good time to be poking some truth into them, it looks to me like. So in the spirit of rehabilitation it looks to me like an easy fix.”

According to Paul, this visitation rule is different from other county jails he has visited. While there is a jailhouse ministry in Woodward, Paul said he’s not wanting to reinvent the wheel, he just wants to be able to visit an inmate in a timely manner when there is a need.

“. . .If you've got a guy in there that's in a bind, (then) from every avenue, a guy like me can help his situation and the county’s situation, just in speaking some health and some truth into this,” Paul said. “In the spirit of the health of our community it just makes sense.”

Sheriff Kevin Mitchell was unable to attend the meeting but the Woodward News was able to visit with him afterwards.

According to Sheriff Kevin Mitchell, each inmate has a visitation list of up to 10 individuals. Inmates can receive visitors for 20 minutes once a week.

“You don't just get the walk in and say I want to visit,” Mitchell said. “It’s just too hard, we got too much going on, too many inmates, and not enough staff. It’s too much. So we just have certain visitation days.”

Area pastors rotate visiting the jail on church day in the middle of the week. Each minister has to either be ordained or have written permission from the church they serve.

“We changed it probably two years ago,” Mitchell explained. “We had pastors coming in just all day long. And you got to be with them all day long, you got to watch them, and try to keep track of them and keep them from getting hurt. It was just too much.”

According to Mitchell, they had a meeting with the group of pastors that were coming. At that time, they all agreed to do the rotation.

In addition to regular business, the U.S. Census Bureau Initial Boundary Validation Program was approved with no changes or corrections.

Commissioners approved two resolutions, one for determining the maximum monthly highway expenditures for January and the other declaring a surplus for the Sheriff’s office of a 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe to be sold at CED #7 auction.

The board also approved the January County Treasurer’s monthly report, as well as monthly officers reports. The county cash fund estimate of needs and request for appropriations was tabulated as $274,853.41 making $91,617.81 for each district.

Also in new and unforeseen business, a website host change option was brought up to the board from the County Clerk’s office. The present website costs $6,437 or more a year. Another host has been brought to attention that would cost $2,000 start-up plus only $3,000 annually. Commissioners requested more information be gathered and the issue be put on next week’s agenda.

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