SUNBURY – There has been a staff “reset” at Northumberland County Jail, a state of emergency is declared and the warden is retiring. At an emergency county jail board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, they voted to accept Warden Bruce Kovach’s retirement, effective this Friday.

Then, after a closed session, the board voted unanimously to make Deputy Warden James Smink the interim warden. Then he said, “I have big shoes to fill. I think Warden Kovach and I had the same correctional vision. We will try to keep this in mind and move forward, ensuring the safety of staff and inmates. Smink has been in prison for 23 years.

The board then voted to appoint Dave McCoy Deputy Director, “Everything is a challenge, and I’m always up for a good challenge. It’s gonna be a new environment for me, but I know I got a good man here (Smink), and I always tell people, take what you know, take what I know and find a middle ground and make it work,” McCoy said.

Commissioner Kymberley Best also spoke of the ‘state of emergency’ now declared at the prison due to the urgent need for additional prison staff. She said other counties were facing the same situation and the declaration was simply a “proactive” measure. The board says it doesn’t want to wait until there is an even greater need. The proclamation will be sent to Pennsylvania Emergency Management (PEMA).

Director Kovach says he is retiring for family reasons. He has served since December 2014. He was new to the job in 2015 when the county jail was destroyed by fire and oversaw the temporary transition of inmates to SCI Coal Township. He helped oversee the construction of the new Coal Township Jail, which was occupied in late 2018.


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