Somerset County Prison Board selects new warden

November 7, 2018

Members of the Somerset County Prison Board came out of executive session Tuesday and unanimously approved the hiring of Michael Porter, of Burleson, Texas, as the county jail’s new warden.

Porter replaces Gregory Briggs, who left a month ago for another position.

The board’s recommendation will go before the Somerset County commissioners Tuesday for final approval. If the hiring is approved, the salary board, following the commissioners meeting, will set his salary, and Porter will begin his duties at the jail the same day, according to prison board President John Vatavuk. Vatavuk and his fellow county commissioners are also prison board members.

“He was an extremely qualified candidate,” he said. “I’m real excited having him on board.”

Over the past 19 years, Porter has worked in multiple aspects of corrections and was selected as one of the 2015 Top 100 Administrators in America, according to a media release from the prison board.

He provided oversight of six prisons and a $40 million budget. He was warden of a 1,100-bed federal contract and 500-bed county jail, the report states. The board said he has extensive training as a firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor and hostage negotiator.

The Somerset County Jail has room for about 150 beds.

More than 100 people showed interest in the position once it was posted, said Commissioner Pat Terlingo. The board narrowed the field to six for in-depth interviews.

“All the six candidates we interviewed did a fine job,” he said. “I’m not just saying that off the cuff.”

Porter was interviewed first via Skype and then in person.

“This was a tough interview process to make sure we have the right person at the jail,” Commissioner Gerald Walker said. “The position of warden is one we can’t leave open for long.”

If hired by the commissioners Tuesday, Porter will start a 90-day probational period, according to prison board solicitor Michael Barbera. The starting salary for the position was set at $50,000 to $55,000.

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