County officials: We lost confidence in jail administrator - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

County officials: We lost confidence in jail administrator

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

The Marathon County Jail Administrator has resigned and we're learning more about how that happened. Authorities say Bob Dickman announced his resignation late Wednesday after his leadership had come under scrutiny.

Bob Dickman has been employed with the county since 1988.

During a meeting Wednesday, county officials say they told Dickman the jail needed to go in a new direction,

"The system broke down," Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger said. "Bob (Dickman) agreed, we all agreed on his resignation."

Karger says Dickman verbally announced his resignation effective 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

"This is a process that needs to be followed, we have problems, they are not the type of problems that can be cleaned up without some major changes and this is just one of those changes," Karger said.

This comes three weeks after an attack at the jail. Sheriff's officials say an inmate, Fredrick Morris, 20, attacked two corrections officers, one of them critically. Officer Julie Christensen, 36, remains in critical condition due to injuries suffered in the attack.

Since then, Marathon County has made changes to make the jail safer. but, the county administrator admits there's still a lot of work to do.

"We need to improve our communications both with inmates and employees, we need to upgrade our technology, upgrade our training," Karger says.

So, who will take over at the jail? County officials have named Paul Mergendahl as the Interim Administrator. Mergendahl is currently the superintendent at the Marathon County Juvenile Detention Center. He's worked in corrections for 18 years, including numerous positions at the Marathon County Jail.

"It's the same staff, the same facility, all the systems in the jail I'm familiar with, so that won't be a challenge," Mergendahl said.

But he says he realizes there are challenges ahead.   

"Addressing the current problems or issues, whether they be infrastructure or staff, that's what I'm going to emphasize," Mergendahl said.

Newsline 9 contacted Bob Dickman to ask about his resignation. He did not return our calls.   

Marathon County officials say Mergendahl will remain the interim jail administrator until a new sheriff is named. At that point they will decide how to best fill the position permanently. 

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