County jailer replaced
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:28 PM
"It seems that nobody wants to talk about why Jack Zimmerman lost his job as the guy who runs the county jail.Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley said simply that Zimmerman concluded his employment as the chief jail administrator at the beginning of the year. Hawley said he's not at liberty to discuss anything about the personnel issue and can't even say whether Zimmerman quit or was fired.The last few years have been challenging and tough on Zimmerman.Hawley appointed him to the position as the jail's top dog in January 1999, replacing the long-term interim jail administrator. He was the first jail chief who didn't have a law-enforcement background. Just before getting the $48,000-a-year job, Zimmerman retired after nearly 32 years as a community corrections officer on Whidbey Island and 11 years of moonlighting as a cook at Toby's Tavern in Coupeville. He started out his career as a prison counselor. Zimmerman cut his famous long pony tail to get a more clean-cut look before taking the job at the 60-bed jail. He later admitted that he missed the long locks.In 1998, Zimmerman got his name on the primary ballot by unsuccessfully running as a Republican against Island County Court Clerk Marilee Black.Tragedy struck last fall when Zimmerman's step-son, James Fraser, was killed in an accident near Coupeville.Zimmerman started an innovative video court program in the jail in order to cut down on the time and danger of transporting inmates between the jail and the district court in Oak Harbor. It allowed prisoners to stand before the judge and sign papers from the jail - via video and fax machine. Zimmerman, a Coupeville area resident, could not be reached for comment.For now, Hawley said oversight of the jail has temporarily been assigned to administrators in the criminal division. He says he's not sure how he'll go about filling the position yet. "