Sheriff reports retaining law enforcement personnel increasingly difficult

Published 1:50 pm Monday, December 14, 2020

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor


After recognizing retiring Crisp County Commissioner Wallace Mathis for his 18 years of service, the commission heard from Sheriff Billy Hancock about the problems he is having keeping qualified people on staff.

“In the last six months,” Hancock said. “We have lost three individuals, all 27-28 years old who have gotten out of law enforcement to go into the private sector

“Keeping law enforcement personnel has gotten to be a tough job. We are seeing young people leave either because it’s not the job they thought it was or families have put pressure to them to look elsewhere or to retire. Five years ago, I had five people per shift working in the detention center, now it’s down to four, so we have to move people around which puts us short staffed in the detention center.

“On a good note, I have been able to renegotiate the federal contract for housing federal inmates and I have a check to the county for $130,000 for one months stay.”
Hancock reported a decrease in the jail population — an average of 206 a day compared with 227 last year — and no positive COVID results in the jail.

And thanks for the Christmas bonuses,” he said.

County Manager Clark Harrell reported the county received a $787,481 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, to improve streets and drainage in the Meadow Park subdivision.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved liquor beer and wine sales by Blackshear Beverages LLC
  • Learned the 2020 Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant (LMIG) project is complete and the 2021 LMIG paving list is ready The last project cost $191,600 per mile and there is no expectation it will be any less next time.
  • Harrell said he is trying to work on a trash problem initiative
  • He also said the county web site is very dated and recommended it be updated to be more user friendly.
  • Learned that Commissioner–elect Mark Crenshaw will be sworn in in mid-December as soon as Judge Holloway receives the paperwork from the state department.
  • Learned that Brock Road is now open and the $1.2 million bridge paid for by the GDOT Federal Impact Program is complete

The Crisp County Board of Commissioners meets the second Tuesday of each month at 9 am at the Crisp County Government Center.



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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.