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The Montana Department of Corrections received nearly 50 applications for the soon-to-be vacant warden position at Montana Women's Prison in Billings, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

Officials are sorting through the applications to prepare a list of finalists to replace Jo Acton, who announced her retirement from the prison warden post in March shortly after she was placed on administrative leave.

Acton, who held the job for 18 years, was the subject of an agency investigation following a complaint that described a hostile and unprofessional workplace under her leadership.

The investigation was scuttled, however, with the announcement of Acton's retirement effective July 1. Deputy Wardens Bob Paul and Joan Daley have been appointed to oversee daily operations at the prison until a new warden is selected.

Bob Anez, a spokesman for the agency, said 46 applications were received for the warden position, and a final list of those selected for interviews has not yet been determined.

When a list of finalist is prepared, those selected will be interviewed by a panel in mid-June, Anez said. The agency's director, Mike Batista, will make the final hiring decision.

The agency hopes to announce Acton's replacement by July 1, Anez said. Officials initially said they hoped to have a new warden in place by June 1.  

The position has an annual salary range between $78,000 and $82,000, Anez said, although the final amount is subject to negotiation.       

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State courts reporter for the Billings Gazette.