Welcome aboard one more time for another column of news from the office of the Pulaski County Sheriff. Warning: My humor may strike during this column, but I am still trying to decide if I should use the bit of news that will lead to the humor. This one is a hard call to make.
I recently sent out a news release on an incident where we thought we were dealing with unexploded military ordnance and in that release I mentioned that American Civil War cannon balls still killed people. I had a reader challenge me on that one, so let me defend myself. If you will enter the following information into your computer search engine you should get a story. Look for the death of Sam White, Civil War relic collector, in Chester, Va., on May 2, 2008. You should find the article in several locations. This is the most recent death by a Civil War cannonball that I know about.
Last week Thursday, we had an on-site visit by the federal monitor from Washington, D.C., in reference to our two largest grants. Cynthia Simmons has served as our state policy advisor since the start of the grant awards and she made the trip to Pulaski County to audit our two grants and one for the Crocker Police Department.
She spent a little over two hours in my office as we went over everything related to the grants. She got down into some very small details, and in the end, she was very happy with the documentation that the sheriff’s office was saving. I then escorted her over to the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office and after a review of the documents there, she told me that Pulaski County would receive a favorable report from her on our grant documents. She also said not to hold our breath while we waited for her to issue the report because she had a number of them to do along with her regular job and it would be some time before the report was completed. When I get a copy of the report, I will see if we can release it to our local media in some fashion. At the conclusion of our site visit, I escorted her to Crocker and introduced her to their police chief for the Crocker Police Department site visit.
I would be way less than candid if I did not mention that this site visit or audit had me worried. I have mentioned before that when I read or try to write the federal grant language, I get totally lost. I had high hopes that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing and tracking the performance numbers that we needed to track, but I would be lying if I said I was completely confidant that I thought we were on the right path. I am greatly relieved to know that we are doing it correctly with only a few very minor corrections to make. We made a couple of the corrections on the spot and the auditor had the necessary documents before she left our office.
We also have some really good news that came about because of her visit. Due to a much longer than normal budget review of our grant applications back at the start of the process, we got a very late start on our grants. We have two major grants, one for five jail staff members for $288,921 and one for two dispatchers and one evidence room custodian for $190,502. Both of these grants are 100 percent full pay by the feds with no match by Pulaski County. The sticking point was that both grants were to run two full years and are scheduled to end in July 2011. However, our eight grant employees did not start work until Jan. 17 of this year, so we thought we stand to lose out on a lot of money. The good news is that the auditor showed me how to prepare and file for a grant adjustment notice that, if approved, would allow us to fully complete the grant for the full two years. I will complete the adjustment notice at the appropriate time.
Last week Monday, we had two people come into the office with an unusual request. They wished to get married at a drinking establishment across the street and while they had the official standing by to perform the wedding ceremony they were short two witnesses. They requested deputy backup. As luck would have it, we had two deputies in the office doing paperwork and no pending calls, so the two of them witnessed the wedding as part of the protect-and-serve job process. For the record, this is not exactly a situation unknown to me. As a state trooper, I wandered into the courtroom on several occasions over the years and was drafted to witness the ceremony of eight or nine sets of total strangers. It only takes a few minutes, so what the heck: Provide the service.
However our department humor machine went into high gear over this event. After all, the two deputies, one male and one female, were both single. So was this a double wedding ceremony? And since they were caught off guard without rings, how did they symbolize the unbroken circle of love? It was quickly decided that the exchange of handcuffs took care of that problem. Then they had a procession back to the office after the ceremony where the dispatch staff had located a package of cookies and had made a fast trip to the soda machine in the foyer and the wedding reception was under way. The department cell phone tree was quickly activated to spread the good news to off-duty people and much laughter flowed forth. I regret to say that the various plans for the possible honeymoon were interrupted by a 911 call and it was quickly back to business as usual.
I must confess that the above story is true and is told with only slight exaggerations. For about 35 minutes, the troops had a good time and some great laughs. I am sure that this story will “grow” as it is retold over the next few months. As I have said before, we witness a lot of death, injury, and misery in this job and every once in a while it helps to have a great laugh.
Until next time, please drive with care and please keep your actions legal. We do not need your vehicle wrecks or your jail business this year. As it stands now we are going to be way over budget on the inmate board bill, but the jail light bulb is bright!