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Litter Contract and great work by staff--Sept. 2013 Wakulla Times

SIGNING A LITTER CONTRACT AND A GREAT WORK BY OUR STAFF

By CHARLIE CREEL
Sheriff, Wakulla County

There is an old saying that if you show me a community that cleans up after itself I will show you a community that has a low crime rate. I believe this to be true. Citizens take a much keener interest in their community if their home area is not covered with trash.

With this in mind, the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office recently signed a contract with the Florida Department of Transportation to collect trash along the sides of state roads for the next two years.
Deputy Leif Sparby, Deputy David Roberts and Deputy John David Metcalf keep track of the trustees and work camp helpers who are assigned to the WCSO. They work the crew every day of the week when the weather allows.

The state contract to clean the roads is executed through Transfield Services on behalf of the Department of Transportation. The sheriff’s office held the contract until January 2010 when it became cost prohibitive to continue it under the original terms and Sheriff David Harvey let it go.

In January 2013, the WCSO got back into the state road trash business on a six month basis and in June we decided to get back into collecting trash on state roads since we were already collecting trash along the sides of county roads. Clean roads were a priority for Interim Sheriff Donnie Crum as it is for me.

We felt that it was important to keep in touch with Transfield and DOT throughout the time when we did not have the cleaning contract because we felt the sides of the roads were not being kept as clean as they should be.

The contract calls for the cleaning crew to pick up trash over 498 acres of state roads every month. Interim Sheriff Donnie Crum and I talked during the transition period after the 2012 General Election about the importance of keeping the roads clean so when my term began in January 2013 we hit the ground running with the six month contract. The new two year contract calls for the WCSO to be paid $59,856 over the length of the contract.

We feel with the good work of our road crews and staff that we can create a significant improvement in the road conditions in Wakulla County.
This contract is not a moneymaker for the sheriff’s office. We just hope to break even and clean the roads to make everyone proud of how nice the sides of the roads look. We are still in the process of cleaning the local roads as well. The crews work their way to local roads after the state road commitments are met each month.

We are on a reimbursement basis for the costs each month and we are checked for our progress during three annual inspections by the state DOT.
We keep track of the amount of trash that we collect each month and the crew collected and weighed in 5,765 pounds of trash on state roads in January. The total weigh of trash collected in January was 9,020 pounds.

In February, the state road work netted us another 4,400 pounds of trash. The total of all roads in February was 9,735.

In March, the state road trash accounted for 6,110 pounds and the grand total was 9,455 pounds while April provided us another 7,275 pounds on state roads and a grand total of 13,990. In May, the trash collection total was 3,745 pounds on state roads and 11,445 overall and the June total was 3,660 with a grand total of 7,965 pounds.

There were several other pieces of good news for our staff and the citizens of Wakulla County since we last communicated through this magazine.

• Three members of a Tallahassee family were in Ochlockonee Bay in July when the two teenage children got caught in a squall during some of our bad weather around the holiday weekend. The teenagers were in a kayak that capsized in the squall. Lt. Mike Kemp, Deputy Sean Wheeler and Deputy Billy Metcalf responded to Walker Bridge in Ochlockonee Bay and teamed up to make sure there were no fatalities. The two teenagers were struggling in the choppy water below the bridge and the father of the two teenagers jumped off the bridge in an attempt to assist his children.
Lt. Kemp asked a friend, Joel Wier, at a nearby condominium complex for the use of his boat and the Good Samaritan assisted Lt. Kemp in rescuing the three Tallahassee residents. It was a difficult situation where Deputy Wheeler attempted to maintain visual contact with the victims until help arrived. Deputy Metcalf had been instructed to retrieve the WCSO search and rescue boat. The story had a happy ending thanks to the brave and smart work of our deputies and the generosity of a concerned citizen nearby.
We recognized the efforts of Joel Wier about two weeks after the incident when I presented him with a Hero Award for his selflessness and courage for taking his vessel out into the bad weather.

• Sgt. Billy Jones was busy during June as he saved the life of a 4-year-old preschool child who was choking on a foreign object and could not breathe. Sgt. Jones responded to the scene and managed to dislodge the object so that the child could be examined at the hospital. The frantic mother was so grateful to Sgt. Jones that she came to the office to thank him personally.
During the time in the ambulance, Sgt. Jones presented young Sapheriah McKinney with a teddy bear to calm her after the ordeal. After sharing the story of his day with his family that night, Sgt. Jones’ daughter asked him to give Sapheriah a Minnie Mouse plush character she had received at Walt Disney World on a recent visit. The story touched us all as the mother, Yolanda Timmons, was still raw and emotional discussing the incident in my office.

It is times like these that law enforcement officers can truly understand and appreciate why they love doing this line of work. Our deputies want to help our citizens any way they can. Even Sgt. Jones got emotional when he thought of his own daughter in the same situation clinging to life for a short period of time before help arrived.

• At the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office we have a quarterly employee recognition program where members of the law enforcement staff, detention deputies and civilians in my office are recognized for their outstanding work.

During the April 1 to June 30 quarter the WCSO recognized the work of road patrol Sgt. Danny Harrell as our Law Enforcement Officer of the Quarter. Sgt. Steve Smith was recognized as the Detention Officer of the Quarter. Steve leads the bailiff security force at the Wakulla County Courthouse.
Lorinda Sanders was recognized as the Civilian of the Quarter for her work in the Evidence and Property Division.

• A citizen of Wakulla County recognized Detective Derek Lawhon for his outstanding efforts in investigating a burglary case and going above and beyond the normal work expectations to solve the case and return property to the victim.

The Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency recognized Detective Lawhon during a program in Tallahassee in July. He received a Distinguished Service Award for Law Enforcement. Detective Lawhon is relentless in his pursuit of criminals no matter what type of case he is investigating. He has been very effective in making arrests related to property crimes in Wakulla County.

• In 2012, Tropical Storm Debby flooded a large portion of Wakulla County and hit the residents of Sopchoppy particularly hard.
This year we were fortunate that late June and early July rains were interrupted enough that when we had more than a foot of rain it was over several days. The rainy conditions created some flooding concerns in the Sopchoppy area again as well as along the upper St. Marks River. Several roads near the Painted Bridge in the Greenough area of Sopchoppy were covered with water but nothing compared to 2012. The water levels on the St. Marks River and the Sopchoppy River remained high days after the heavy rains concluded.

The sheriff’s office recently swapped an old Chevrolet Tahoe with 130,000 miles on it for an airboat owned by another law enforcement agency. The airboat will give the WCSO better access to serve our citizens when we have flooding. The WCSO Search and Rescue vessel is much more effective on the ocean while the airboat works much better in shallower waters encountered in flooded areas.

Our Emergency Management operation kept residents informed about the flooding threat and the flood waters did not become a major issue.

Now that the 2013-2014 school year is underway I want to remind motorists to be careful on the roads with students waiting for their buses. Take care on the road and don’t pass buses that are stopped for passenger pickup.

Now that we are into the 2013 college football season please remember not to drink and drive while you celebrate the games of your favorite teams. Enjoy the early fall and remember you can help fight crime—If you See something-Say something-Do something. Help keep Wakulla County safe by calling 745-7100!

 

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