Heidi Zemach for SCN –
Clare Sullivan has been appointed Superintendent of the Spring Creek Correctional Center. The appointment makes her the first woman to hold that particular post at the facility. Sullivan replaces former Spring Creek Superintendent Craig Turnbull, who retired February 28, 2013 after serving as superintendent there since 2001, and working his way up through the ranks for the preceding decade.
Sullivan is an active and well-respective longtime member of the Seward community, along with her husband Mike, known especially for their affiliation and leadership with American Legion Post 5. Sullivan has served as its Post Commander for more than five years. She became a member of the American Legion in 2006, and served as the Service Officer, and Adjutant. Her husband Mike has also been post commander, and runs the bar. They put together the annual Memorial Day commemorations, and also public events including steak dinners, pancake breakfasts, and fish dinners during Polar Plunge weekends, Additionally, Sullivan has served as Western District Zone 2 Commander and American Legion Department of Alaska Executive Committeewomen, and as Historian with the American Legion Department of Alaska.
Sullivan began her employment at Spring Creek in 1996, and served as a correctional officer, correctional sergeant, and institutional and field probation officer, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections PR staff. They are the only ones in DOC employ allowed to comment to SCN for this article. But the appointment of a fellow Seward resident, and also one who has risen from within the ranks of Spring Creek, and has been a Correctional Officer, is likely to be appreciated by fellow officers and employees, sources say.
Sullivan also is respected for her toughness as well as her strong belief in security for the safety of the Spring Creek employees. She has a strong military background with the U.S. Army. She was commissioned in 1980 as U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant, working in the Military Intelligence Branch. She also participated in operations supporting Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, and with the Green Beret Sports Parachute team while stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, where she conducted demonstration jumps.
Originally from New York, Sullivan grew up in the New York City suburb of Rye, NY. She attended Fordham University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.
Spring Creek Correctional Center, located off Nash Road in Seward, is the State of Alaska’s maximum security, state operated adult correctional institution. It has a capacity of over 500 male inmates, and generally employs more than 200 staff. As such, it is also probably Seward’s largest employer. As of last week, its population was at 499 inmates. Staffing levels, and the inmate population decreased somewhat with the recent opening of Goose Creek medium-security state facility in Mat Su Valley. At least 30 corrections officers left to take jobs there, or left because of a new staffing policy mandated by DOC that made daily commuting to other towns such as Anchorage difficult.
Twenty correctional officers have been hired to date to fill those positions, and another 10 are in the recruitment process as they attempt to fill all vacant positions, according to the Department of Corrections. When that happens, which should occur by the end of the month, they will no longer rely on Temporary Duty Station personnel.
Minimum correctional officer staffing levels were recently lowered at the facility from 28 to 27 CO’s during the daytime hours, and by three positions (from 19 to 16) COs working nights. It was a result of the implementation of blended staffing according to DOC. Additionally, a House Sargent position was added, but that position does not count toward the minimums because overtime is not used if that person is out for the day.