County Officials Dispute Over Evidence Storage

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Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly and County Commissioner Lenny Eliason are at odds over the pace of efforts to free up additional space for evidence storage for the sheriff’s office.

Kelly said he’s getting fed up with the cramped evidence room in the county courthouse building.

A marijuana bust last week added 13 pounds of the drug to more than 100 pounds already in the evidence room. Other drugs, guns drug paraphernalia and mattresses are some of the things in the cluttered evidence room. Kelly said he’s brought up the issue with Eliason.

“I explained to him that the evidence is overflowing,” Kelly said. “We’re compromising cases and I need more room.”

Kelly is proposing files be moved from a room on the third floor to free up space for evidence storage. He said he’s been pushing the commissioners for five months, now.

Eliason said the sheriff needs to be patient.

“He’s overly demanding,” Eliason said. “He thinks things should happen in an instant. He has to realize we meet as a group one day a week. He needs to have a better understanding of how long it takes us to get things done.”

Elison said they have been looking at and cleaning out a record center for storing more evidence. The person who they have in place to get the procedures done was on vacation for a couple of weeks.

“We told the sheriff earlier in the year that it would be late fall before it was open and operating and accepting stuff,” Eliason said. “So, I don’t know why he thinks he needs to yell about it not being done. It’s being done.”

Kelly is not convinced that they are doing what they say.

“That’s all you hear the commissioners say is they’re going to be working on something” Kelly said. “When they actually accomplish something it shocks me.”

The commissioners will discuss these issues further at their weekly meeting next week.