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Supervisor, sheriff spar over issue

'No-cost' jail option topic of debate

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK -- A Shenandoah County supervisor and its sheriff on Tuesday sparred over claims that leaders turned down a "no-cost" option for a local jail.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Sheriff Timothy Carter responded to Chairman David Ferguson's questions about the statements in a local newspaper that elected leaders rejected an offer to build a new jail with federal assets forfeiture money.

The chairman has repeatedly refuted Carter's claims and asked the sheriff to respond.

"My personal opinion is we need to move on," Carter said.

"That's mine, too," Ferguson said.

However, Carter and Ferguson spent the next 10 minutes going back and forth about the sheriff's statements.

"I didn't write the article but I believe we're talking about semantics here," Carter said. "The board was provided information regarding a confidential case several years ago ... provided that information with the understanding -- at least I recollect the understanding -- that I wanted to build a sheriff's office and at the time the sheriff's office and the jail were all one entity."

Ferguson questioned the sheriff's recollection.

"The truth is the truth and the truth is the truth," Ferguson said. "The truth is at no time did we talk about funding a local jail with asset forfeiture money."

The chairman recalled that the sheriff had advised the board several years ago about confidential cases and that members should not talk about the operations, nor did supervisors know how the efforts would play out. Ferguson said the discussion did not include talk about whether funds could pay for a local jail.

Ferguson said the article gave the public the impression the board purposefully turned down an offer to build a jail with the federal money.

Carter recalled that he briefed board members years ago on asset forfeiture, how much his agency had received and what the office might expect in the future. Carter said he also told the board about real property tied up in the case.

Carter noted that the county has, since its inception, had a combined sheriff's office and jail. Ferguson said it was a stretch and misleading for Carter to assume supervisors would understand that the sheriff connected the jail and the agency office.

The sheriff reiterated his desire to move on. Ferguson continued his questioning of the statements in the article.

"I don't want people out there to think that I mislead anybody or that I did hear that when I didn't hear that," Ferguson said.

The chairman said Carter didn't answer his questions. The sheriff refuted Ferguson's claim.

"You talked around it but you didn't answer it," Ferguson said. "You didn't say 'Mr. Ferguson you are absolutely right. I did not openly say I would fully fund the local jail portion cost to this board."

Carter reiterated what he said he provided to the board.

"Every opportunity that I had over those years to provide alternatives to this body were local solutions," Carter said.

The debate went briefly into the sheriff's well-known opposition to the regional jail, which he noted was now a moot point. The two-way discussion ended after the sheriff explained that he hopes the board can work with him on using asset forfeiture money to build a new headquarters. Ferguson recalled that he worked with the sheriff on his most recent request to use the federal money for other purchases and to start work on the headquarters project.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

Approved a motion to grant a request by the Department of Parks and Recreation to appropriate $15,122, with more than $6,000 to go toward making necessary repairs to the basketball courts. The department should put the remaining money into its program budget. Supervisor Cindy Bailey opposed the motion, stating that the board should put all the money into the county's general fund.

Approved a special-use permit for a home business requested by Robert Wescoat to run a barbershop at 339 Bruebeck Lane, Strasburg. The Planning Commission recommended the board approve the permit. The barbershop activities will take place in the home and occupy less than 10 percent of the building. Wescoat will be the sole employee and he expects to serve 10-15 customers.

Approved a special-use permit for a home business requested by Lana Vann and Michael and Heidi Budwash to operate a cabinet-making shop on Mahlon Lane, Woodstock.

The Budwashes plan to build a home and a small shop on the property and to move their existing business to the site. They do not plan to have customers come to the property. Bailey voted against the motion to approve the permit.

Approved a request for a special entertainment permit to hold Germanfest on Sept. 13 at 11523 Back Road, Toms Brook. The county requires the permit because festival organizers expect more than 500 people to attend the event.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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