Luzerne County has no acting correctional division head with Nesbitt’s departure

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | March 3rd, 2016 3:16 pm

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Acting Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri has assigned an employee to oversee day-to-day county prison security in light of prison head J. Allen Nesbitt’s resignation, but he is not designating an acting division head at this time.

Nesbitt’s resignation as Luzerne County Correctional Services division head takes effect Friday.

Pedri announced Thursday he has asked Peter Cwalina to handle management of all security issues.

Cwalina has worked at the county prison three years and is director of the prison’s minimal offenders’ unit. He also has more than 25 years of experience with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pedri said.

Current staffers will handle other prison administrative duties, Pedri said.

“At this time, no ‘acting’ titles or salary increases will be implemented,” he said.

Nesbitt had publicly recommended the appointment of Deputy Warden James Larson as acting warden/division head and Treatment Coordinator Grace Franks as acting deputy warden.

Pedri had expressed support for Larson, a 36-year county employee, but made it clear he would make his own decision on acting prison overseers.

Nesbitt, who has held the $75,000-a-year division head position since May 2013, accepted a position with a nonprofit drug/alcohol and criminal justice organization outside the county.

Pedri thanked Nesbitt for his service.

“Mr. Nesbitt has been a great asset to the county, and we wish him the best of luck as he moves forward with his career,” Pedri said in a release.

The correctional division head position will be publicly advertised, Pedri said.

The county’s home rule charter requires eight division heads, and the operational services division head position also has been vacant since Tanis Manseau abruptly resigned in October.

Pedri recently interviewed three finalists for the operational services position but recently told the county council he has decided to revise the job description and re-advertise the position.

Nesbitt told the council last month he had remained here, despite other job offers, due to his commitment to the “ideas and leadership” of prior county manager Robert Lawton, who resigned at the end of 2015.

At $34.1 million, the prison system is the largest single department expense in the county’s $130.2 million general fund operating budget.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.