Koontz Reports Progress
Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz delivered a status report of the sheriff’s office to Wetzel County Commissioners Tuesday morning.
Koontz stated that all of the bills have been paid, the earliest dating back to 2009, “maybe one in 2008.” However, as far as he knew, all bills have been paid. “There could be one somewhere, that someone gave up on,” he said.
Right now the sheriff’s department is operating with low man power, reported Koontz. This adds $11,500 to the sheriff’s office, helping the office fiscally. With the money that will be saved thanks to an unpaid salary and benefits, “this will help us get extra money.”
Koontz stated that the new sheriff’s department cruiser “are in and are being readied for service.” He added that the state bid program was utilized and there had been questions from citizens as to why the cars weren’t bought locally. Koontz stated that funds were saved due to using the state bid program and that the local dealers were unable to compete with the state bid program prices.
Also, Koontz reported that radio reprogramming in the sheriff’s department vehicles was not as bad as previously thought and, additionally, new vehicles will help the sheriff’s department become narrow band operable.
Koontz reported that Deputy Randy Adams was currently helping to get GPS systems for vehicles. Adams is trying to get some systems donated or funded through grant monies.
Furthermore, Koontz reported that Deputy Rob Hayes is “very good at cataloging evidence in the evidence room” and Hayes is “trying to get things back in order and a system in place.” Koontz reported that four days was used for getting evidence in order. An additional day was used for destroying evidence. Koontz said that currently there are 10-15 pounds of miscellaneous drugs that need to be destroyed. He added that the sheriff’s department is currently searching for a place that will destroy evidence, as well as provide a receipt for the evidence.
Koontz said there is a Drug Enforcement Administration take-back program that oversees the destroying of drugs. However, this program only destroys drugs annually. “At least with this,” Koontz said, “we can say this is destroyed.” According to Koontz, nothing had been done with the evidence room for seven to eight years.
In another matter, Koontz stated that Deputy Hayes and Deputy Adams were looking into an underage grant with Juvenile Probation Officer Bryan Hostetler. With these grant monies, this could help combat underage drinking and drug abuse.
He further reported that Deputy Roger Spragg, through grants, was able to obtain radars and other materials to help with road patrols.
Koontz said that those county-wide have mentioned seeing more deputies on the road. He added that all shifts are covered and the county is never without a deputy.
Koontz reported that the tax office is in “excellent shape” and that Deputy Titus and her staff are confident in their work.
Prosecuting Timothy Haught, who attended the meeting, gave credit to Sheriff Koontz by stating that the sheriff has taken a big effort to return unclaimed property, specifically firearms. Several firearms that were seized during investigations such as domestic disputes or mental hygiene cases had not been returned to their owner. Or, in cases where the weapons could not be returned, they had not been turned over to the state, as protocol dictates. Also, forfeiture money, from drug busts, was not being distributed in a timely manner. For instance, Haught stated that 10 percent of the seized forfeiture money goes back to investigators for drug buys and undercover buys. This money also helps with fees paid to confidential informants. “Those things weren’t being done in a timely manner,” Haught stated.
After Koontz and Haught’s report, Commissioner Scott Lemley thanked Koontz for the work he has been doing as sheriff. “Thank you for taking on this role. You have shown five star leadership,” he stated.