Sheriff Philip C. Povero's
2002 Ontario County Jail Groundbreaking Remarks

Page 8 of 9

Shortly after Ontario County was formed in 1789, the first county jail was constructed. It was a log building in Canandaigua where City Hall is located today at Main Street and West Avenue.

The jail was described as having only one door with two windows on each side. Large chains held prisoners to the walls. The bedding consisted of straw on the floor. Most of the people jailed at that time were charged with drunkenness or failure to pay one's bills. Inmates were often mocked by people on the street.

Since the late 1700s, the jail has had several locations in Canandaigua including its current location at Ontario Street.

Philip C.
Povero is the
past president
of the NY
State Sheriffs

The New York State Sheriffs' Association (NYSSA) is a non-profit corporation formed in 1934, for the purpose of assisting Sheriffs in the efficient and effective delivery of their services to the public. Its premise is that the elective Office of Sheriff is an historic and valuable institution that should be preserved for the People of this State. The current NYSSA president is Sheriff Thomas Loughren of Chenengo County.

A private membership corporation composed of all Sheriffs in the state, NYSSA is officially recognized in state laws giving it authority to designate:

  • Members of the NYS Municipal Training Council,
  • NYS Zone Training Coordinators,
  • Members of the NYS Law Enforcement Telecommunications Committee, and
  • Members of the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council

The office of Sheriff has been an integral part of the criminal justice system in the state throughout its history, having been established in New York's first constitution and continued in every succeeding constitution.

An essential component of our criminal justice system, the Office of Sheriff is has evolved into a modern, professional, full-service law enforcement agency extending into many facets of public service, including maintaining the county jail, providing security in the courts, and dispatching emergency services.

To learn more about NYSSA, visit its web site at and to learn more about the history of the office of sheriff, visit the New York Correction History Society's excerpts presentation of The History of the Office of Sheriff by Schenectady County Sheriff Henry C. Buffardi.

The first jail was built on Ontario Street around 1815. Different jails have been built and modified on Ontario Street. The jail constructed in 1961 continues to provide incarceration for Ontario County's violators of the law.

Today, we are breaking ground for the construction of a modern county correctional facility. Many people have worked a tremendous amount of time getting us to where we are today. So many deserve recognition including the Board of Supervisors, staff in the Sheriff's Office, the County's Planning and Treasurer's Offices, our construction consultants, and our colleagues at the State Commission of Correction for their guidance and support.

There is still much work ahead of us before this new facility is completed and fully operational by Labor Day of 2003.

However, the prospect of the new direction in the correctional field that we are taking in Ontario County, specifically, the direct supervision of inmates, is very exciting yet admittedly challenging. We are embarking on a new era of corrections that promotes positive change in the behavior of the inmates confined to the facility.

Sheriffs Spike & Povero, right.
NYCHS executive committee member at-large Sheriff Ron Spike, left, who headed NYSSA in 2000-2001, accepts a plaque on election as NYSSA life member. Presenting it is Phil Povero who succeeded him as president.

Ron grew up in a house attached to Yates County Jail. His dad was the sheriff. . . After Monroe Community College, Ron became a Deputy in 1970 and criminal investigator in 1973. He was NYSSA's Deputy of 1981. In 1982 he was promoted to Chief Deputy. A decade later he was sworn as sheriff. He's NYSSA rep on key National Sheriffs' Association committees. . . Gov. Pataki has named him chairman of the NYS Municipal Police Training Council since 1997. . . Home to NYSSA Summer Camp on Keuka Lake, Yates has a population of 33,000 that doubles in summer. It has shoreline on three Finger Lakes.


Phil joined the Ontario Sheriff's Office in 1972 and was assigned to the Correction and Communications Division. A year later, he joined the Road Patrol and was promoted in 1977 to investigator. . . By the time of his election as sheriff in 1990, he had passed every civil service promotional exam within the Office. He holds an Associate degree from Finger Lakes Community College, a Bachelor in criminal justice from Rochester Institute of Technology, and has extensive training in investigation and forensic sciences, equipment and techniques. The 761 square-mile county's population is 100,000.

WEBMASTER NOTE: NYCHS acknowledges and appreciates NYSSA help, especially project director Charles J. Gallo's, in gathering images and information used in boxes on this page.

The success of direct supervision will further the realization of the mission of the Ontario County Office of Sheriff. A mission to enhance the quality of life of all people who reside in, travel through, work or shop in our local communities.

This ceremony also re-commits Ontario County government to establishing the safest work environment possible for our correction officers. The corrections officers of the Ontario County Office of Sheriff will be the people who make this new approach to corrections successful. This facility will provide the corrections officers a safe environment and the tools with which to follow their chosen public service career.

The new Ontario County Correctional Facility will enhance the public safety of all county residents, including our new neighbors here in Hopewell, by providing the space and the rehabilitative programs to change people's lives so that when they leave this building, they will be motivated to become productive members of our society. And that they won't fight with their spouse; they won't drive while intoxicated; and they won't steal from the stores in their neighborhood.

This is a major difference from the operation of the first jail established in 1789. But by taking the vision of the Sheriff's Office and the members of the Board of Supervisors to construct a correctional facility designated to create productive behavior and reduce crime, I am very happy and proud to be associated with the many people who have worked so long and so hard to further this project in the interest of public safety for all residents of Ontario County.

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