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Sheriff names new jail manager

A more active sheriff's department with special projects in the works has prompted promotions and reorganization within the agency.

The promotion of long-time employee Dan Penland to the post of Jackson County Jail commander follows a recent inmate suicide and a major assault on another prisoner.

But the events are not related, said Sheriff Mike Winters. The department's increased responsibilities ' including providing security at the courthouse and airport ' have prompted the administrative shuffle, Winters said.

We're just growing, Winters said. We're handling more business.

The jail has handled a larger inmate population since the June closure of the county's 85-bed correctional facility near Talent, the result of state budget cuts, Winters said. The county placed approximately 30 more prisoners in the Medford jail after a 16-year-old court order limiting the number of inmates was eased in August.

— A new captain will be hired to help supervise the jail, relieving Capt. Joe Puckett of that duty, Winters said. Upon election, Winters placed Puckett in charge of the department's patrol, training and search and rescue divisions, in addition to several other operations.

Despite the new positions, the department still has fewer administrators than last year when he took office, Winters said. The recent promotions are within the department's current budget and will not cost more money, he said.

Seeking the salary savings of a streamlined administration upon assuming office, Winters demoted seven sergeants ' five in corrections and two in the former criminal division ' to deputy status. The sergeant positions have not been filled, the sheriff said.

Penland's former sergeant's post also will remain open, the sheriff added. The department previously had 16 sergeants.

As a sergeant, Penland also was slated for a demotion last year. However, that action was stalled and never carried out, Winters said.

The more I got to know him and review his work ... he just didn't get demoted, Winters said.

A jail employee since 1985, Penland had been managing the facility alongside Sgt. Bob Stark following the resignation of former Lt. Shirley Tolbert in July. Under sheriffs C.W. Smith and Robert Kennedy, Penland was a sergeant in charge of administration, discipline and training in the jail.

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