Athens County Sheriff Plans For New Hire

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Athens County Commissioners have agreed to commit up to $26,000 to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office by the end of the year, which will allow Sheriff Patrick Kelly to fill a position that has been vacant since 2012.

Although the money is coming later, Kelly said the commissioner’s agreement is enough for him to make the hire now.

“We will be hiring someone next week,” Kelly said. “We already have someone in mind; it’s someone who has already passed the board.”

Kelly said he will provide the name of the new deputy once the new person is hired.

The commissioners didn’t vote on a specific amount either; they only provided the sheriff with an understanding.

“We’re going to guarantee you at least that,” said Commissioner Lenny Eliason. “I don’t think it’ll be all 26, but we need to calculate that out.”

The amount is less than what the commissioners were originally going to provide for the department in July. The commissioners were planning to allot around $32,000, according to Kelly. The reduction is because of a new lower starting rate for entry-level deputies.

Kelly has been asking the county commissioners for funding to hire another deputy since January. In 2012, the sheriff’s office did not refill a vacant deputy position due to budget constraints.

Kelly said he was happy with the commissioner’s decision, because he estimated he would have had to spend an extra $13,000 in overtime.

“We got people shooting at us,” Kelly said, in reference to a stand-off on Fisher Road on Monday. “This is getting a bit extreme. I need $26,000 for the rest of the year. I think that’s a reasonable amount to put another person on duty.”

In addition to the vacant position, Kelly has two deputies who are retiring — Darrell Cogar and Rodney Smith. Both have decided to take their accumulated vacation time rather than be paid for unused time. Kelly said that helps the county financially, but means the two deputies will be off the road sooner. Cogar’s last day is Saturday.