Sheriff Dennison to run for reelection
Rockland — Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison said Jan.13 she will run for reelection in November.
Dennison, who has served two terms as sheriff, said the jail has come a long way since she was first elected in 2006. Yet, she said, she is still learning.
The sheriff said the jail is the biggest liability, with money scarce due to state budget restraints.
"Many needs have to be postponed with the limited funding available. It is unknown what will happen with the state and our jails. We cannot continue much longer with out the funding we were promised," she said in an email Jan. 13.
Dennison said drug abuse remains one of the biggest problems related to crime in the area. A new, modern patrol office was very much needed, said Dennison, adding that deputies work as a team.
"They have to be able to make decisions on very short notice at times. With robberies getting more frequent in Maine, they have to be ready," she said.
Dennison said the staff and some inmates have worked hard to bring the jail up to standards with repairs and painting. Inmates began going to work in the community again, and some earn wages to pay their fines and child support.
Other inmates do community work for non-profit organizations and earn time off their sentence. Inmates do woodworking projects, learn to use a tractor, work on motors, sew, cook; the possibilities are limitless, she said.
"Churches are a huge help with all the volunteer work they do for us," she said.
Successful programs implemented at the jail include the Pod Dog program, where a golden retriever, Miller, lives at the jail and provides company and is cared for by inmates.
"Inmates are learning some of the old ways, how to grow food and raise chickens," Dennison said. The gardens cultivated at the facility have helped offset the cost of food, she said. "Who knows you may see some cows here."
"Keeping inmates busy gives back a little and does not allow idle time for them to get in trouble. I am looking into having inmates build a garage which would expand what they can do. Building some dog kennels to work and train unwanted dogs is another project I am considering. Most inmates appreciate a chance although there are always some who don't want to change," she said.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.