McLean Fiscal Court opted against taking any action Friday on a measure that would renew inmate and animal shelter services with Daviess County, but the jailer is already transporting inmates to Muhlenberg County for now, while officials seek options for stray and abandoned animals.
Meanwhile, Daviess County Jailer David Osborne responded to allegations McLean Jailer Mike “Red” Sallee had made about his Owensboro facility. Osborne sent a letter to the McLean court listing grievances he has with Sallee’s performance while transporting county inmates.
McLean County entered into a memorandum of agreement with Daviess County in 2011. McLean County Judge-Executive Kelly Thurman said the county was scaling back its animal shelter operations in Calhoun after continued years of running at a deficit. Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly offered McLean a contract to house its stray animals and its inmates at what Thurman called “substantial savings” to the county.
But that contract came under fire when the court considered renewing it in December. Sallee told magistrates he wasn’t happy with the organization and treatment of McLean County inmates at the Daviess County Detention Center.
McLean County Circuit Court Clerk Stephanie King-Logsdon also spoke at that meeting. She said that she would like to see the the jail facility stay better organized and keep better track of court documentation if the fiscal court chooses to renew its contract. The court tabled the measure and considered moving inmate services to Muhlenberg County, where it had been previously.
As of Monday, all new McLean County Sheriff’s Office arrests were transported to the Muhlenberg County Detention Center in Greenville. The county maintains standing agreements with surrounding jail facilities to allow for this, Thurman said.
Thurman told the court in a special-called meeting Friday that he and County Attorney Josh Searcy simply did not have enough information yet to make any recommendations to the court for or against renewing the annual Daviess County memorandum of agreement. After the meeting, Thurman said he was concerned about the fate of the animal shelter service side of the contract, should the court end its inmate services with Daviess County.
McLean County pays Daviess County $1,500 a month to house animals at its shelter, which adds up to $18,000 a year, regardless of the number of animals. Plus, Thurman said, the agreement stipulated that Daviess County would incur the medical costs associated with any of those animals.
No matter where McLean County takes its inmates, Thurman said he is fairly certain it will cost the county more money than it has been paying for use of an animal shelter, even if the court opts to renegotiate with Daviess County.
While he has considered restarting long-term animal care at the Calhoun facility, he believes the costs would ultimately be prohibitive.
Thurman said he wants to keep a positive working relationship with its neighbor to the north.
He isn’t the only one, either.
McLean County Animal Control Officer Julia Pryor said she has enjoyed what she called a “really good” working relationship with the Daviess County Animal Shelter.
Pryor said she holds stray animals at the McLean shelter for five days before transporting them to Owensboro once a week. The idea behind that is that by holding them in Calhoun for a short amount of time, arrangements can sometimes be made to find local homes for stray cats and dogs. Abandoned or abused animals are transported immediately, she said.
“I would hope to continue to have this relationship with Daviess County,” she said.
Osborne and Mattingly have repeatedly denied Sallee’s claims that the Daviess County Detention Center was mistreating McLean inmates or that organization at the facility was lacking.
In a letter that Osborne sent to Thurman, he accused Sallee of opposing the agreement from the start and using his influence to “tear down” the agreement both judge-executives had crafted.
Osborne called Sallee’s own judgment into question and described an incident where he said Sallee had left a firearm visible in his unattended car with the doors unlocked and a window partially down in the sally port, an area where prisoners are regularly delivered and picked up at the jail facility.
“This could have resulted in tragedy,” Osborne wrote.
He said the issue had been addressed with Sallee and Thurman, but Sallee denied that his weapon was visible. He said it had been securely hidden underneath the seat.
Osborne also described three incidents where McLean County inmates had escaped Sallee’s custody in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Sallee did not deny the claims, but he said prisoner escapes weren’t all that uncommon with some individuals and he questioned the importance of the issue, considering the agreement in question.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Sallee said, “it’s none of his business. He needs to worry about his own inmates.”
Osborne also accused Sallee of giving inmates cigarettes, which are considered contraband at the Daviess County jail, and, in fact, in all Kentucky Department of Corrections facilities. He said inmates had repeatedly told the jail staff that Sallee was providing the cigarettes, resulting in a new standing order to strip search all returning McLean County inmates.
When cigarettes make their way into a jail facility, Osborne said they are often sold and traded. That increases the likelihood of a fight. Osborne called cigarettes a “hazard.”
Until just this month, the detention center sold electronic cigarettes in the commissary. Osborne banned them last week after a shorted-out e-cigarette left in a trash bin started a small fire that caused minor smoke damage and resulted in a jail evacuation.
Again, Sallee did not deny occasionally giving inmates cigarettes to smoke outside the facility, but he said he had witnessed other officers doing the same and that the matter had not been addressed with him.
Finally, Osborne questioned Sallee’s claims to the fiscal court that he had been left waiting in the jail’s sally port for long periods of time while the Daviess County jail staff prepped McLean inmates.
“The service provided to Sallee is contrary to Sallee’s accusation that McLean is ‘at the bottom of the totem pole,’” Osborne said, referencing an earlier report in the McLean County News. “We take our commitment to McLean County very seriously. It has been very rare that (Sallee) would have to wait more than 10 minutes.”
Sallee said he stands by his testimony to the fiscal court.