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Feb. 28, 2006 – "As far as I am concerned, Joseph Ponteen executed the duties of Corrections Acting Director in a diligent and responsible manner," said St. Croix Senator Neville James on Tuesday.
Senator James said he and Ponteen worked together successfully when newly hired BOC trainees were not paid for several weeks.
"The new-hires began training in November 2005 and as of January 2006 they had not seen a single dime of their pay," Senator James said. "They came to my office and with the assistance of Ponteen and key members of his staff, we resolved the issue. Checks were issued on February 2," said Senator James.
Senator James said the trainees, who will build up the depleted ranks of the Bureau of Corrections prison guards, were under tremendous pressure because of mounting personal obligations.
"They have bills to pay just like anyone else," Senator James said. "When the opportunity presents itself to assist in bread and butter issues like this, I have an obligation to do so."
Senator James said he will move an amendment in the next Legislative Session to appropriate $250,000 from the rainy day fund to the BOC to subsidize the trainee payroll. Unexpended funds would remain available for subsequent trainee classes.