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Incoming sheriff won't reveal staff plans

Sheriff-elect Mike Winters is preparing to take office Jan. 6 but is keeping quiet about who will join him.

Winters has yet to announce who will hold management-level positions within the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, leaving some supervisors anxious about their status in January. The new sheriff has the authority to re-appoint or terminate 23 supervisors ' from sergeants up to the department's captain.

Recently honored as the Oregon Jail Manager of the Year, Lt. Jim Warren does not know if he will have a job after the holidays.

Well, (Winters) hasn't talked to any of the supervisors here, and it's making a lot of people very, very nervous, Warren said.

Warren's award ' bestowed last week ' is the second in three years for the jail's commander. He also serves as president of the Oregon Jail Managers' Association and has commanded the Jackson County Jail since 1998.

If it's in the cards for (Warren) to be dumped, I think it would be a serious mistake, said Sheriff Robert Kennedy, adding that perhaps more than any manager, Warren has sought cost-saving measures for the county.

A former Oregon State Police trooper, Winters brings no corrections experience to the sheriff's office.

Winters said he could not comment Wednesday on who would have jobs at the sheriff's department after he took over. He has a reason for keeping his management choices a secret, he said, but would not elaborate.

Sheriff's Capt. Ed Mayer, who ran against Winters in the November election, said he did not know what his plans would be after the first of the year.

Other managers, such as Sgt. John Pruett, aren't too worried about losing their jobs but acknowledge that the change in command is on everyone's mind.

Everybody's a little curious, Pruett said.

Winters said he will address employees' questions in a series of department meetings scheduled for the second week in January after he takes office.

Winters said he had planned on attending an orientation for new sheriffs offered in Hood River this week through the Oregon State Sheriff's Association. However, he had planned on attending local meetings throughout the week, including a county budget session today.

I really wanted to attend that class, but I don't want to jump ship on my county, Winters said.

Winters' election is the first administrative shakeup at the sheriff's department since C.W. Smith took office in 1983. Kennedy, who served as Smith's captain, has held the office since 1994.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail