A new warden was been selected to lead operations at the Bedford County Correctional Facility.
Capt. Joseph H. Eichenlaub of Hollidaysburg, who has served as the acting warden at the jail for the past three months, will become the permanent warden on April 19.
The county’s prison board unanimously voted to approve hiring Eichenlaub at its meeting on Friday. The county commissioners said they will approve the hire on Tuesday.
Commissioner Deb Baughman, chairwoman of the prison board, said four people applied for the open position, and two were interviewed based on their qualifications.
“We did feel Acting Warden Eichenlaub brought a wealth of experience with him that could really help continue the positive direction we have been going in since we first got help from the Department of Corrections late last year,” she said.
The prison board is made up of the county’s three commissioners, the district attorney, sheriff and treasurer.
Commissioner Barry Dallara said the county has benefited from Eichenlaub’s leadership.
“(He) has impressed all of us with his in depth knowledge of operating a corrections facility,” Dallara said in an email after the meeting. “We are fortunate to have a person with his expertise at the BCCF.”
Sheriff Wayne Emerick also touted Eichenlaub’s experience.
“I thought Joseph Eichenlaub had the best proven experience for the warden position,” he said. “He rose through the ranks working for the State Correctional Institution for 25 years, and held many different levels of management.”
Eichenlaub has been employed by the state Department of Corrections as an intelligence-gathering captain at SCI Smithfield in Huntingdon County. He was assigned to serve as acting warden at the jail on Jan. 11, a few days before the county commissioners announced former Warden Troy Nelson and two deputy wardens, Rocky Bernazzoli and Jason Moore, were no longer employed by the county following an investigation and assessment of the jail’s operations.
Nelson and Bernazzoli were first suspended by the county at the start of the investigation in late November, at which time another DOC official took over the initial responsibilities as acting warden.
“As acting warden for the Bedford County (Correctional Facility), he was recommended by the DOC as someone who could handle the job, until a replacement was found,” Emerick said. “From my point of view, he is doing a good job for the county prison now.”
Eichenlaub will retire from the DOC on April 17 to take the position with the county, according to a news release issued by the county commissioners on Friday.
Eichenlaub’s career in corrections began in 1996. The commissioners said he has gained extensive knowledge and experience in jail operations and management during the past 25 years.
Before his career in corrections, Eichenlaub served in the Marine Corps; Third Marine Division, G-2 Intelligence and as a member of the Marine Anti-Terrorism Company established to provide rapid response to the global threat of terrorism.
District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts in the release said Eichenlaub has shown a clear direction for the jail.
“During his interview, Mr. Eichenlaub elaborated on specific plans and goals to continue to move the Correctional Facility in a positive direction,” she said.
Dallara also noted Eichenlaub’s military background as a positive quality, while Baughman said she was impressed by a letter of support the county received from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 83 and Local 3157, the union representing correctional officers at the jail.
“The correctional officers all signed the back of it,” she said. “It stated they hoped we would hire (Eichenlaub) and that they felt he was a strong leader who provides stability and the confidence they need to do their job. He has instilled a sense of pride there.”
Baughman said Eichenlaub has added new procedures at the jail and has focused on “team building” with the staff. She said he also has hired about 10 new correctional officers during his tenure as acting warden.
“We’ve seen the facility turn around,” she said.
Eichenlaub’s salary will be set by the county salary board.