There are some new faces in Calhoun County government after last Tuesday night’s general election. This week, we took some time out to speak with the new leadership team preparing to take office for the first time.
Longtime law enforcement officer Glenn Kimbrel, who served for several years as Blountstown Police Chief, has been named Calhoun County’s new sheriff. He will be replacing incumbent David Tatum who opted not to seek re-election after three terms.
“I just want want to thank the voters who voted for me and invited me into their households during the campaign,”
Kimbrel tells The County Record. “Everyone was so pleasant. We’ve got a really good county full of a lot of great people.”
Sheriff Tatum has offering the incoming sheriff the opportunity to begin working for the agency Dec. 1, allowing Kimbrel time to get a feel for the office before being officially sworn in Jan. 7.
“I appreciate the current sheriff extending that invitation,” says Kimbrel. “It will make the transition smoother.”
As for his first order of business, Kimbrel points to the current drug climate in Calhoun County, a battle he is ready to fight.
“Obviously, everyone is concerned about keeping the crime rate low in Calhoun County and making this a good and safe place to live,” he notes. “All are concerned about drug problems.”
The serious meth issue is first on the list. “Meth drives other crimes such as property crimes and there are many people who are victims of property crimes,” Kimbrel remarks. “That’s a primary concern. We are really going to roll our sleeves up and go to work on the meth problem.”
Kimbrel says there will be several familiar faces remaining on staff at the Sheriff’s Office, along with some new folks. “Changes have to be made, that’s in any administration,” he points out.
As he leads his team, the sheriff-elect says he will focus on improving call response time by strategically placing deputies in high call volume areas. He also plans to move toward a community policing concept with more public involvement.
“This office belongs to the citizens,” he says. “I will just be managing it for four years at a time.”
Another new face on the political scene is accountant Carla Hand who has been elected as the new Calhoun County Clerk of Court. Hand will assume her duties in January, replacing Ruth Attaway who has served for 12 years and did not seek re-election.
“I’m humbled to have been elected,” Hand remarks. “I’m excited about being able to serve the citizens of Calhoun County and working together with everybody. It is a great place, but I want to help make it a better place if I can.”
At the top of Hand’s to do list is making public information more accessible to local citizens. “We’re going to look at having easier access to all the information like the county minutes and agendas, making it easier for people to access it. I think people are happier when they know what’s going on.”
Whether it’s a 10-page document or a 200-page report, if the County Commission will be discussing it, Hand plans to make the materials available, including accessible online, prior to meetings.
As for her team, she says, “I don’t have all that worked out yet. I want to talk to everybody and I want everybody to be happy and satisfied. I have not had the chance to talk to anybody yet, but plan on doing that in a short period of time. They might have questions of me and i might have questions for them. I don’t intend to go in and get rid of anybody. I know a lot of those people and like them. They are like everybody else - they need a job.”
As for changes, Hand notes, “Before I change anything, I’d like to go in and see what each person is doing and see how it’s working and we’ll go from there with what kinds of changes we want to make in the different areas. I want to sit down with each person and see how it works. Sometimes there are better ways to do things, but the worse thing you can do is go in and make changes without thought. If it’s not broke, you don’t fix it. A lot of times there are ways to do things faster, quicker and more efficient, then we need to do it that way.”
Hand will be attending a new clerk training Dec. 3-7 to prepare for the transition.
The Calhoun County school system has a new leader in Ralph Yoder who is taking office much sooner than others.
“I will be sworn in November 20 and my first day working will be November 26 after the Thanksgiving holidays,” Yoder remarks.
After a lengthy campaign season, Yoder is grateful to the voters. “I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to lead our school system and entrusting the future of your children’s education with me and my staff.”
First on Yoder’s agenda is to familiarize himself with the current situation at local schools. “I want to spend time with my staff and principals to acclimate myself to the school system, to understand the school culture and to take a hard look at the budget issues facing our school system.”
Next week, we will hear from the three new county commissioners who will be sworn into office next Tuesday, Nov. 20. The following week, we will meet the new Liberty County officials