BEDFORD - Bedford County Jail Warden Donald Orr resigned unexpectedly Tuesday morning, ending a nearly month-long internal investigation and throwing the jail's future into question.
Orr turned in his badge and keys an hour before the county commissioners' meeting, saying simply, "I'm resigning," Commissioner Paul Crooks said.
A woman answering the door at Orr's Hyndman home Tuesday said Orr would not comment on the matter. The commissioners said that, under orders from labor attorney Aimee Willett at Andrews and Beard law offices in Altoona, they couldn't discuss any details of personnel matters like Orr's. Willett did not return a phone call Tuesday.
Orr had been on paid suspension since May 17, under investigation for a May 14 incident that commissioners said might never be fully explained to the public.
The investigation was nearing its conclusion when Orr quit, Commissioner Chairman Kirt Morris said.
"We were hoping to make a decision very, very soon. He came in and beat us to the punch," Morris said.
Officials have divulged only that the incident was a personnel issue - not a criminal matter - and that it didn't involve other jail employees. Morris said similar situations have ended with employees' dismissal.
"The procedure [Orr] went through is the same as others," he said.
The commissioners said the sudden resignation came as a surprise - had Orr been cleared in the investigation, he would have been welcome to resume his job, Crooks said. Orr had held the post since February 2010.
With Orr's resignation, the leadership in place during his suspension is set to remain: Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer will supervise the jail, with Deputy Warden Jerry Beck in charge of day-to-day operations, officials said.
"I'm trying to keep the flow going," Reichelderfer said. "We've been through several wardens over a short period of time."
The commissioners said Orr's resignation will likely resume talk of the 180-capacity jail's future. County officials last year had weighed several cost-saving options, including shipping prisoners to other counties and even closing the facility entirely.
Closure could be a point of discussion again this year, Morris said.
"It's a legitimate consideration. We can send them to an institution. ... and we can basically save money," he said.
With Orr's sudden resignation and with the county bogged down in its ongoing reassessment, discussion of the warden's replacement - and of the jail's future - could be postponed until later in the summer, Morris said.
Orr's departure marked the second county resignation in the last few weeks. Days before the jail investigation was launched, Bedford County Children and Youth Services Administrator Ron Scott was dismissed after another "personnel issue," the commissioners said.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.