Carroll sheriff names warden

Corrections official worked in Montgomery and for state agency

Hardinger to start Aug. 5

June 29, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning named yesterday as warden of the Carroll County Detention Center a longtime friend and professional acquaintance who has worked in state and local corrections for more than 20 years.

George R. Hardinger, director of capital projects for the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation the past 10 years, will head the jail beginning Aug. 5 with a rank of lieutenant colonel and third in the chain of command, the sheriff said.

The two men met about 15 years ago as opposing coaches of their daughters' softball teams, then served on the board of the Central Maryland Girls Softball Conference, he said.

Hardinger, 50, of Silver Run has lived in Carroll for more than 20 years and said he won't miss "driving elsewhere to work in corrections." Several years ago, he served on a county committee that studied whether to expand Carroll's jail or build a new one.

His career in corrections began with studies at Anne Arundel Community College, after service in the U.S. Army Security Agency that included duty at the Panama Canal and in Alaska. He then earned his bachelor of science degree in criminology from the University of Maryland College Park in 1978.

He worked at the state House of Correction and as a work-release specialist in Baltimore, when interest was building in community-based adult rehabilitation, Hardinger said. The sheriff has been working recently to limit inmates on work-release to those with short sentences and to have judges recommend rather than order the privilege.

During his career, Hardinger recalled, he also saw his job renamed.

"I went through the transition from being a `guard' to being a `correctional officer.' They took me out of the Army surplus uniform with a poplin shirt and olive drab, and put me into a red coat, gray slacks with white shirt," he said. "There was a whole mind-set going on at that time."

After a pilot program on work-release in Baltimore, he became an executive assistant in the state corrections department, then took the job in Montgomery County corrections, he said.

After 10 1/2 years there, a new Montgomery County facility is "just under construction now," he said, acknowledging embarrassment. The jail houses 650 to 700 inmates. Carroll has an inmate population of about 165.

While focus in Montgomery has been on the detention center project, he noted implementation of central booking and an expansion in 1990.

New changes

The Carroll County facility also is expanding its building and its programs, with plans to house federal Immigration and Naturalization Service detainees, to implement central booking and to evaluate home detention, he and the sheriff said.

One change was to take place last night, Tregoning said, when jail inmates were to be allowed outdoors to exercise for the first time in about 10 years -- since the privilege ended after nearby office workers complained of verbal abuse by inmates. For now, the prisoners will be in the yard only after 6 p.m., when office workers are gone, he said, but the new construction includes a walled outdoor exercise yard that should eliminate the problem.

A new police dog unit will patrol the yard and begin checking for incoming contraband, primarily drugs from work-release prisoners, he said. The jail expansion should be completed by late summer, he said.

Studying plans

Hardinger has been studying the plans, he said. "I literally want to know my way around this facility blindfolded."

As for the staff, "I have nothing but good things to say. I'm not here to shake things up," he said.

"The sheriff has this county on the edge of making some real changes, and it's exciting to be a part of that," Hardinger said.

This month, Tregoning fired the former warden, who was appointed by former Sheriff John Brown in 1994. He said at the time that he had a replacement in mind. Hardinger will be paid $56,500 a year.

Tregoning said, "I wanted someone with expertise and qualifications, and a willingness to get in and get the job done."

Pub Date: 6/29/99

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