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Recognizing work of Gail Campbell and Don Franks April 2013 Wakulla Times

RECOGNIZING THE OUTSTANDING WORK OF GAIL CAMPBELL AND DON FRANKS
BY CHARLIE CREEL
SHERIFF, WAKULLA COUNTY

This month I want to talk about the work of two people who grace the halls of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office on a regular basis. I am speaking of our WCSO Grants Specialist Gail Campbell and our General Educational Development (GED) instructor Don Franks.

Gail has not only done an outstanding job helping the agency maximize our financial impact by helping us acquire grant money, but she is a key element in the Wakulla County Coalition for Youth where she has served as president.

Gail’s efforts with the Coalition for Youth and Operation Santa earned her recognition from the Tallahassee Democrat as one of the “25 Women You Need To Know,” a feature which was published during the month of March.
The sheriff’s office also nominated Gail Campbell as one of the Tallahassee Democrat’s “Volunteers of the Year.” As the Wakulla Times went to press we were still waiting to hear if Gail won a Volunteer of the Year Award.

If Gail wins the second recognition it will be fitting. If she isn’t selected with her outstanding work in the community it will be a shame. We all know what kind of an impact Gail has had within our agency, both as an employee and as a person.
Gail, her friends and volunteers with the Coalition for Youth, Operation Santa and with a food bowl feeding project for the hungry in Wakulla County last fall have made a tremendous impact on our community. I am proud to be able to call Gail a co-worker and especially a friend. Congratulations to Gail for all of your hard work and dedication. I am pleased that other individuals within the Big Bend region will begin to realize some of the things that you have done and continue to do.

Gail and the volunteers raised thousands of dollars to help the less fortunate at Christmas. The food bowl project also helped food pantries in Wakulla County and raise awareness of the seriousness of the hunger problem we have in Wakulla County.

The Tallahassee Democrat is correct that their readers should know and praise the work of volunteers like Gail Campbell. At the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office, we all know that Wakulla County is a better place to live because of the efforts of people like Gail Campbell and Don Franks.

I also want to recognize the outstanding work of GED instructor Franks. Don is actually a Wakulla County School District employee who visits our jail twice a week to educate our inmates. Many of our inmates have studied with Don and learned several subjects including mathematics, science, reading, social studies and writing. After they learn from Don’s classes, they take the test to see if they have enough knowledge in the subject area to receive their GED.

Every three months the test cycle arrives and six inmates passed their GED in the most recent cycle. The next text cycle is in April.
Don loves to help people whether he is serving as a father, husband, youth sports official or mentor. Two days of Don’s week are spent in the Wakulla County Jail where Tuesdays he teaches females about academics in the jail library. Thursday his focus switches to male inmates and their studies. He teaches both local inmates and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees the basic skills to help his adult students succeed in life.

Franks has worked with inmates for five years in the jail and nine years overall, including time in Leon County. He has an outstanding success rate as more than a dozen of his students have gone on to get their GED in a single calendar year.

Don tells me that he loves helping people and spent 14 years as a paralegal. He loves the education field and helping people better themselves.
Franks has degrees from Keiser College, Florida State University and Florida A and M University. He enjoys working in institutions and has found his calling for what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
Helping inmates better themselves is important to the sheriff’s office because it helps the inmate turn around their lives, accomplish something they can be proud of and get jobs they otherwise would not get. Former inmates often approach corrections staff after their release and thank them for the opportunity they received while they were incarcerated.

Don is flexible in his teaching as he may stand up and teach in a classroom setting or sit around a table and teach students from their level. The students he teaches want to be in his teaching program and behavioral problems rarely become an issue.

Don is also a U.S. Army Reservist with a rank of E-7 or Sergeant First Class. The 26-year military veteran spent a year working at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He continues his reserve work each month.
With approximately half of the students enrolled in the program successful in receiving their GED I am pleased with the success rate of our program. One inmate spoke candidly with me about simply wanting to take the opportunity to improve himself.

• The WCSO has been pretty busy since I was sworn in as sheriff in January. The time passes quickly and the challenges never really stop.
During the recent weeks the WCSO made an arrest for cultivation of marijuana in St. Marks where 86 marijuana plants were seized from inside a home. In addition, another 502 grams of marijuana was seized as drying leaves and buds.

A Crawfordville woman was arrested for five felony charges after pulling out a firearm from its holster in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. The citizen was angry over not being allowed to use a $1 coupon. She also struck one of our arresting sergeants as he attempted to conduct a traffic stop and get her to get out of the vehicle during the arrest process shortly after she left the supercenter.
An active methamphetamine lab in the St. Marks community was destroyed after a search warrant was served at the home. There was an actual active chemical reaction going on when the search warrant was served.

Emergency Management Director Scott Nelson continues to do an outstanding job as Wakulla County citizens face natural disasters. The latest challenge for us included lots of rain and river flooding, particularly along the Ochlockonee River in the Smith Creek community. Scott does an excellent job keeping everyone up to speed on the threats and dangers involved in the disaster and how the WCSO and county officials are responding to it.

His work during Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 was exemplary as he put in long, long hours to address all aspects of the county’s response. It is a comfort to know that while we can’t stop Mother Nature, we can be prepared to react and help those in need.

I also received a visit from former Sheriff David Harvey who presented me with a plaque for “Outstanding Improvement in Fleet Safety and Loss Control.” Sheriff Harvey is now the Executive Director of the Florida Sheriffs Risk Management Fund which provides insurance coverage to sheriff’s offices throughout the state.

The sheriff’s office has also continued to find ways to save taxpayer’s money by completing a great deal of work in house with our own staff and inmates. The work to prepare some new road patrol trucks fell on our maintenance division as our staff got the trucks all ready for the deputies. They used donated materials to make the trucks an office on wheels for our deputies. We have an amazingly talented staff and they do a fantastic job for us. Their work keeps the WCSO from having to spend lots of money having the work performed by vendors at a much higher cost.

The maintenance crew also saves us money inside the facility by performing many tasks involving plumbing, electrical, general repairs and small construction projects. The crew attempts to address all of the facility maintenance concerns from the roof to the floor, whether it is inside the jail, Emergency Operations Center or our administrative offices.
In sports they often say you have to be lucky and good to succeed in an athletic career. That was the case at a recent Department of Transportation meeting where the WCSO received a $4,000 Pro Laser speed measurement device as a door prize at an area law enforcement meeting.

This device is the latest piece of technology that calculates vehicle speed on our roads. It will give us an opportunity to continue our efforts to reduce speeding in Wakulla County and make the roads safer for everyone.

The WCSO has also been active making a home invasion arrest in Crawfordville involving three suspects and the agency and county public safety staff has also responded to a number of structure fires during the colder months.

I want to remind everyone to be careful with fire and take precautions as we cook in the kitchen and heat in the final days of colder weather.

The WCSO also participated in the Special Olympics as School Resource Officer Deputy Scott Rojas led the Special Olympic Games parade of athletes around the track. The Special Olympics gives our students an opportunity to compete in sports and feel good about themselves. A Torch Run has always been supported by law enforcement from my agency and others in Crawfordville.

Be looking for the 2013 Wakulla Area Phone Book. This year the cover contains our WCSO School Resource Officers with several students from the schools they serve. We are proud of our SRO program and our relationship with the school district and students.

Inside the phone book you will find several color pages of your sheriff’s office in action. Take a look at the book when it is published and enjoy learning more about our agency.
Be careful on the roadways and don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive and always wear your seatbelt. Have a great and safe April!

 

Know Your Zone