Prison board chooses warden’s successor

January 23, 2013

John Temas reported for work as a guard and part-time cook at the Washington County jail in June 1981.

Starting next month, he’ll be the warden.

Washington County Prison Board members Wednesday designated Temas as their choice for the jail’s top job to succeed Joseph Pelzer, who is retiring Feb. 22.

Temas, 53, a Marianna native, had more on his plate at the jail than kitchen tasks.

“I worked as a cook on Saturday and Sunday, and during the week I worked the cell block” as a guard, Temas said.

Pelzer is the fourth warden under whom Temas has worked. His title is deputy warden in charge of operations, and his salary will be going from $55,575 to $71,572, the salary Pelzer is now making.

In addition to his on-the-job training, Temas has taken courses through the state Department of Corrections and the National Institute of Corrections.

“Mr. Temas is a very good person, and he will make an outstanding warden of the Washington County Correctional Facility,” Pelzer said as the prison board met behind closed doors for 40 minutes at the Courthouse Square office building to consider his replacement. “He is the best.”

When they reconvened, the prison board voted 5-0 Wednesday that Temas succeed Pelzer at the facility which, as of Dec. 31, housed 338 inmates.

Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, vice chairwoman of the prison board, missed the vote because she had to accompany a family member to a medical appointment.

Prison Board Chairman Larry Maggi said the board interviewed only Temas for the job once he expressed an interest in a letter and submitted a resume.

“He literally came up through the ranks,” Maggi said, crediting Temas with doing his part to have the jail attain a series of 100 percent rankings from the state Department of Corrections.

“We knew what we had,” added Maggi. “He is known to everyone.”

Members of the board thanked Pelzer for his 29 years of service to the county as they accepted his notice of retirement.

As the prison board meeting resumed, Pelzer gave up his usual place at the conference table.

“You sit there,” he said to Temas, offering him a seat. “I’m at the back of the bus now.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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