At their Thursday meeting, the board of the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center voted to suspend administrator F. D. “Pete” Fitzpatrick for 30 days, effective immediately, with his termination to follow at the end of the 30 day period.
The motion from board member Paul Wells to give notice of his impending termination came following a closed executive session of the board lasting more than two hours. Board members Ann Ratliff, Steve Rose, Paul Wells, Tony Allen and board chair Daniel Castle voted in favor of termination; Zach Branham, Bradford Preece, Joe Mills and L. T. Preece voted against it. Johnny Lovely was absent.
Joe Mills, in voting no to the motion, added that he felt any such termination should come in the form of a contract buyout.
That 5-4 vote for termination after 30 days was followed by a 6-3 vote in favor of his immediate suspension, with pay, for that duration. Fitzpatrick was asked to leave the meeting and was relieved of his keys. Mills left the meeting and did not return.
Fitzpatrick told The Paintsville Herald Friday that he could not comment publicly about the circumstances his dismissal, but said would be speaking with his attorney and likely filing suit, as the dismissal may be in violation of Fitzpatrick’s contract for employment.
“I’ve enjoyed my time. I’ve worked with some really good people, and I feel good about my accomplishments,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said his record as BSRDC administrator includes turning around the books from an estimated $500,000 in the red to over $1 million in the black for the general fund, and having no inmate deaths in custody while other local jails cannot say the same. A recent 236-point inspection of the BSRDC, Fitzpatrick said, was passed on all but two points, both for overcrowding, a problem that is beyond the jail administrator’s control.
No reason was given in the meeting for Fitzpatrick’s termination, but board chairperson Daniel Castle said the board had cause.
“The reason he was suspended was because of his systemic failure to following established policies and procedures, resulting in substandard and inhuman living conditions, resulting in potentially life-threatening conditions for not only the inmates but the employees also,” Castle said.
With the approval of the board’s attorney, Castle provided The Paintsville Herald with a slideshow presented to the board in their March meeting. In addition to graffiti and broken glass, the photos, Castle said, depict black mold in multiple locations.
“That, in part, was what we considered to be (potentially) life-threatening,” Castle said.