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December 18, 2014

Questioning the candidates

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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:28 pm | Updated: 5:31 pm, Wed May 28, 2014.

Sheriff

Darrell Durham

Who are you?

My name is Darrell Durham, and I’m a lifelong resident of Cleburne County. I am a U.S. Army veteran having served with the 101st Airborne Division and the 1/1 Calvary. I was employed by the Al abama Forestry Commission and was a Forest Ranger in Cleburne County before being elected as Cleburne County Sher iff in 1991. From 2003-2012, I was em ployed with Sci-Tech International and was assigned to the Anniston Army De pot Chemical DEMIL Facility until the contract ended in 2012. I have one son, Jacob Durham, who is also a resident of Cleburne County, along with his wife, Carolyn, and their two children, Jacob Walker (6) and William Lowell (3). I am a Christian and enjoy tending to our family property in Chulafinnee.

Why are you running for office?

As with any organization, improve ments can always be made, and my desire is to improve our sheriff’s department. As my opponent has previously stated, he wants to remain on the current course in the Sheriff’s Office; however, I feel the de partment has become complacent.

I have always felt a bond with everyone in the county, and its each community has own way of doing things and its own view of how to deal with situations. I under stand this conviction, and in most cases, I can help find a solution to each commu nity’s needs - be it criminal, civil, or per sonal. I feel this is currently overlooked and neglected. Cleburne County residents deserve a sheriff who is available at their convenience and who is approachable and understanding.

I want to be your sheriff, not for pres tige, salary, retirement, or benefits but to provide a sheriff’s department that offers the best service it possibly can. This is my county just as it is yours, and I want it safe for the same reasons as you.

Will you continue/increase the drug re sistance programs in schools?

As your former sheriff, I worked hard to put programs in our schools. These were always a great success and seemed to be accepted throughout the communities. I again hope to work with school officials and other agencies with these programs. If there are current successful programs within the schools, I will build upon them. Our young people have a great opportuni ty to change our county. I believe a heavy presence and a consistent curriculum of crime awareness is vital to our children’s success. If the sheriff’s department is able to teach them about the dangers they may face both in and out of school, then we need to be there.

Will you make an effort to bring a school resource officer to the county schools? If so, how would you be willing to accom plish bringing the officer/s to the schools?

I will make every effort to obtain school resource officers. Just this year, a nearby city added the presence of an of ficer in its schools and noticed a decline in discipline referrals by seven hundred. If we could provide a deputy for our schools, we would not only see a drop in crimes within, but we could implement and/or build upon current programs for our young people.

The biggest issue surrounding a resource officer is the appropriations needed to sus tain such a program. The county will not be able to provide a deputy for each of its eight schools. We can, however, explore several options.

Grants: There is an availability of grants that can assist with the costs of employing school resource officers. More than 6,000 positions across the country have been created using such grants. If elected, I will seek out all of these resources available to us and for which we qualify.

Reserves: These men and women play a vital role in the success of the sheriff’s de partment. I will evaluate the effectiveness of placing a reserve to serve as an SRO. However, regulations will be placed on these individuals before being assigned:

• Reserve SROs must be certified law enforcement officers having attended an approved police academy.

• The reserve deputies must successfully attend a course certifying them as a School Resource Officer.

Though the toughest of the three op tions, it may still be feasible.

Budget Appropriations:

I can only propose an SRO to the county commission. In all likelihood, the county will not be able to grant such a request. However, it may be feasible that the sher iff’s office and the school board combine appropriations. This will prevent one agency having to solely accrue the costs.

Would you be willing to make room in the budget for Cleburne County Search and Rescue?

Yes. The Search and Rescue provides a much needed service for our county. I will be insistent that the employees of the sheriff’s office hold priority based on the needs of the county. The sheriff’s depart ment has several funds to use in order to help the SAR; however, these will still not be enough to sustain their full budget. I will need to review the SAR’s expenses and requests to see how much we can pro vide. I will try to make adjustments and redirect monies where possible to sup port and maintain the county’s Search and Rescue. Furthermore, I plan on utilizing a great asset to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The government has a program that has gained great pub licity over the last years called the DoD 1033 Program. Under this program, law enforcement agencies may obtain surplus equipment from branches of the Depart ment of Defense for FREE. This equip ment could be, but is not limited to, passen ger vehicles, stretchers, ATV’s, off-road vehicles, and special clothing. The sher iff’s office can use this program to support Search and Rescue. Many of the items are new and most are reusable. If used prop erly, there will be little need to allocate monies from the department’s budget for SAR’s equipment. This is a great program and has proven very successful. We are going to be a very active participant in the 1033 in order to outfit our public safety officials with much needed equipment for their continued operation.

Dennis Green

1.) I am Dennis Green I am the son of Quinton Green and Lois Green Hunter .

I am married to Rhonda Benefield Green and we live in Heflin . I am a graduate of Cleburne county high school . My whole working career I have worked in Cleburne county.

2.)I am running for sheriff because I feel that I am qualified to serve as sheriff of Cleburne county. I have 23 years of expe rience all of which were at Cleburne coun ty sheriff department. I worked. 5 years as a deputy , 17 years as an investigator , I am currently the chief deputy. I grad uated northeast alabama police academy in 1991. Since then I have had additional training in investigations such as homi cides,crime scene rape , robberies. , child abuse , fire investigations , drugs and other crimes against persons.

Also as chief deputy I have supervised and assisted our investigators and deputies in their daily duties.

3.)yes

4.) yes if funds are not available through our county's budget grants will be applied for to put a resource officer in our schools to keep our children safe

5.) yes if there is a discretionary fund available we will certainly support search and rescue

Revenue Commissioner

Joyce Fuller - Incumbent

I am Joyce Robinson Fuller your cur rent Revenue Commissioner in Cleburne County. I am presently in my first term as your Revenue Commissioner. I have been married to Jerry Fuller Jr for the past 27 years and have three children and two grandchildren; Jordan, Tiffany, JerriAnn, Ella Rose and Dani Rose Fuller. I am the daughter of Grover and Marie Robinson and daughter-in-law of Jerry and Jeanette Fuller. My grandparents are Virtie Walker and the late Rev. Fornie Walker and Rev. and Mrs. James Robert Robinson. I have had more than 20 years’ experience as an office administrator in a tax office.

I graduated top of my class from Jack sonville State University with a bachelor degree in education and spent four years teaching. My second year at Fruithurst El ementary School, I was named “Teacher of the Year”. In 2013, after the minimum time requirement as a Revenue Commis sioner, along with the 120 hours of re quired course work at Auburn University, I became the only 2ndin Cleburne County to become a State of Alabama Certified Tax Administrator. Less than 20% of all tax administrators in the state of Alabama hold this certification. I am running for Re-Election as your Revenue Commis sioner, because I believe that the peo ple of Cleburne County deserve honest, hardworking, educated, God-fearing and friendly servants in our elected positions. Based on my education, work history, and the last five years as your Revenue Com missioner, I can say with confidence that I am the only qualified candidate for this position. I am seeking Re-Election to this office to continue to be the servant that the people of this great county deserve. In the past five years I have implemented several updates within the office. I have expand ed the bills each year to include questions concerning the Over 65/Disability home stead Exemption and the Current Use Ex emption to help save the taxpayers money. We are fortunate that our collecting and CAMA system are the best on the market and no changes are needed. We have a top of the line GIS site in which property val ues and tax amounts can be viewed from the convenience of your home. We have a collection box outside the courthouse that accepts payments 24 hours a day. We also accept Visa/MasterCard payments via the phone or in office as an added bonus. In an effort to make the office more taxpay er friendly, I implemented a training and education program throughout the county. This included Church organizations, Se nior Centers, Chamber Organizations, and other civic groups in an attempt to educate and inform taxpayers of their rights and responsibilities associated with property taxes. I began an Advertising-Education program through newspaper and radio advertisement in early 2010 advising tax payers of when property taxes are due, delinquent, and subject to the annual tax sale. We began accepting tax payments in 4 equal installments as a convenience to taxpayers that chose that method. In the upcoming years, we will implement an online payment option for those taxpayers not interested in the current payment op tions. The GIS program that is currently in place allows taxpayers the convenience of printing plat maps, aerial maps, prop erty record cards, and tax amounts from their home or business. I have the hard est working, most dedicated, knowledge able and friendly staff that support me in meeting the needs of the taxpayers and expanding my mission statement: It is my mission statement to honor each and every taxpayer with respect, honesty, hard work, and dedication. I promise to apply the law as it is written to each and every proper ty owner. I vow to continue to work hard and be in the office to serve the people of the county. The Revenue Commissioners office already runs efficiently. It runs effi ciently because of several reasons. First it is efficient because I your Revenue Com missioner, along with my staff work hard each day to exceed the needs of the peo ple. It works efficiently because I manage and stay within the approved budgets each year. It runs efficiently because I apply the law of the State of Alabama equally to all taxpayers and because I know my job as Revenue Commissioner. In the years to come I will continue to put the taxpayers first. I will continue to be on the job, do ing that job, and ensuring that staff in the office is the best. In the event that an em ployee retires, I will continue to hire based on ability to do the job and not because it is politically correct. I owe it to the taxpayers of Cleburne County to run this office by the law. To maintain efficiency, I will con tinue to distribute the property tax dollars to the entities approved by legislation and vote of the people in a timely and profes sional manner following the law. To main tain the integrity of the office I will not make false statements or pass false hopes out to the hardworking taxpayers in this county. I will not promise a change of how the tax dollars are spent or who the prop erty tax dollars are designated to, as I am directed by the law to whom that money is disbursed to. In closing, please know that I work for the people of Cleburne Coun ty. I am a faithful and honest servant. You will not find a more honest, hardworking, experienced, educated hands-on, moral candidate for Revenue Commissioner than Joyce Robinson Fuller. A vote for me is a vote to ensure that the Revenue Commis sioner’s office is ran efficiently, updated with the times and friendly and knowl edgeable to the taxpayers. Thank you for allowing me, Joyce Robinson Fuller, to serve the great people of Cleburne County as your Revenue Commissioner.

Natasha Horn

1) Who are you? I am Natasha Horn and I am married to Josh Horn. We are both lifelong residents of Cleburne County. I have worked with the public for many years including my time working in the Probate Office at the Cleburne Coun ty Courthouse. I am the granddaughter of Glen and Retha Capes of Ranburne. I have three children and I’m proud to be a work ing mom. I successfully perform the duties of my job as well as everything that comes with being a mother.

2) Why are you running for this of fice? I am running for Revenue Commis sioner because I believe I can perform the duties of the job fairly, and without favor to anyone. I enjoy talking with people and I know I can make paying your taxes less painful by educating people of possible tax breaks and programs. I want to make sure everyone has a voice and that every one feels comfortable coming in the reve nue office and discussing any issues they have.

3) What updates need to be made in the office? If elected, I will change the hours back to 8:00 until 5:00 pm like they were in the past. This gives working citizens a little more time to get off work and get to the courthouse. I believe closing at 4:30 is not fair to people of this coun ty or other employees in the courthouse that work until 5:00 every day. I also want to make paying your tax bills as easy as possible by utilizing every method avail able so people have other options if they choose not to come by the courthouse.

4) How would you make the office more user-friendly? If elected, I promise each one of you that you will be greeted by a friendly face when you come in the office. Arrogance will not be tolerated by any of my employees. You will not be intimidated or made to feel unimportant. All questions will be handled by qualified employees and every piece of technology available will be utilized to make the of fice as user-friendly as possible.

Cleburne County Commissioner District 3

Terry Hendrix

Who are you?

I am Terry W Hendrix a 56 year old life long resident of Cleburne County. I have been married to Sheila Hanson Hendrix for 38 years and we have two children. You may know me as the owner of a suc cessful local business, Cleburne County Parts (NAPA), in Heflin. I am fortunate to have such supportive family and friends that make this county my home.

Why are you running for this office?

I enjoy giving back to the community, and at this time in my life I am able to fo cus my full attention as commissioner to do the most good. I would like every res ident of the county to have a better life and more opportunities. I believe in getting the most out of every tax dollar as it will benefit everyone in the county.

How do you think road maintenance could be improved in the county?

The county has both the equipment and personnel to maintain the roads. The de partment must be run in a more efficient way to get more from every tax dollar. For example, we can spray between cutting the right of ways (as the DOT does) this is more efficient than the current method. This is one of many things that could be done to use our resources more effectively.

Cleburne Search and Rescue is a non-funding, volunteer service in the county that has had to come to the com missioners for emergency funding in the last year. How would you propose ensur ing search and rescue has adequate fund ing to serve the people in the county?

I believe Cleburne Search and Rescue could be placed under the Sheriff's Depart ment as they already coordinate during emergencies.

What are your thoughts on introducing zoning into the county?

In my opinion, the county has more pressing issues than zoning at this time.

Benji Langley - Incumbent

My name is Benji Langley and I am seeking re-election for District 3 County Commissioner. My wife, Hope, and I are life-long residents of District 3 and are fortunate to be raising our three children in the same area we grew up in.

When asked why I am running for office, my answer is this: I enjoy helping people. I feel that over the last four years I have been able to do that. Along with the help of the other 3 Commissioners, I have been able to get Ranburne Recreation Depart ment $10,000.00, purchase 2 new score boards for the baseball fields, give RHS $4,300.00, $50,000.00 for the repaving of County Road 68, repaving County Road 10, replace a bridge on County Road 96, and other projects coming up in the future.

The road maintenance is the number one concern I hear from my constituents. The biggest problem there is money. Since I have been in office, the other Commis sioners and I have worked with our legis lature to pass a bill that raised court costs that generates the Road Department ap proximately $200,000.00 more per year. I feel we need to continue looking for ways to increase the money for our roads with out raising the taxes and am confident that we can continue to do just that.

The western portion of Cleburne County over the years has had regular instances of individuals becoming lost or injured while being outside in the Talladega National Forest and Cheaha State Park. While this is not a frequent occurrence in my district, I do feel as though it is positive for the county to have some type of basic ability to respond to lost persons or those injured and in need of rescue. I feel as though the community supporting these services to a basic level is a positive thing. I am willing to cooperate alongside the other Commis sioners to assist in fundraising efforts to help support the volunteers who unselfish ly dedicate their time and energy to assist others during their times of need. Cle burne County is fortunate to have a strong volunteer presence among volunteer fire service and many other worthy volunteer organizations that serve the people of our county and we need to make sure that we all give them our thanks for what they do and how they contribute.

I do not support government (County, State or Federal) trying to over regulate the use of property owned by local cit izens. Many states across the nation and even some counties in Alabama have re stricted citizen’s rights to even build on their own property without government’s approval. With that said, the only type of property restrictions that I would be in favor of are those that protect the general public from land uses that pose a nuisance, threat, or safety hazard to other citizens or the environment.

Board of Education Member at Large

Lonny Watson

My name is Lonny Watson. I am a husband, father, grandfather and uncle. I have a vision and long term goals for our community. I am a good listener and good communicator. Prob lem solving is something that I do everyday as well as inspiring coworkers and customers to reach their true potential. I am an individ ual who makes mistakes, laughs, smiles and loves. I learn from these experiences and will use these life experiences to make the best board member.

2. I am not the type of person that will sit on the sidelines when I am faced with an is sue. Although there are ways to be involved and influence board issues, a seat on the board is where I feel that I will best benefit Cle burne County. Cleburne County is where I have lived since I was a child, where most of my immediate family now resides, and where my wife and I have chosen to raise our fam ily. Cleburne County is where we have made our home and the success of the educational system impacts my family just as it does other members of our community. With my lifelong experience and common-sense approach, I be lieve I can add and strengthen our local educa tional system.

3. How will you ensure foreign language will be taught in school?

Foreign language is an elective and not a requirement for most students. However, I strongly believe a certified foreign language teacher should be in the classroom. Students should not take theses courses on a computer. The board votes on recommendations for the hiring of foreign language teachers as well as science, math, English, history, and other sub jects and support staff.

4. Thoughts on Common Core

There are many issues the board of educa tion must deal with on a regular basis. Com mon Core is one that has become a hot topic. I am against Common Core because there is no mention of education in the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers believed education to be a parental and state issue. Our laws still re flect that assumption, but the concept has been violated by the flow of money with federal strings attached. The state and local govern ment should be able to decide what is best for our schools. Our teachers need some freedom and flexibility in teaching our children. When the federal government instead of the state, or local, government makes depictions about lo cal education, it is very difficult to make any changes. One such example of federal pro grams not being the best for our children is the changes that have been made by the govern ment to the federal nutrition program. Local decisions can be mad more quickly with less obstacles when kept local.

Diane Williamson

My name is Diane Williamson. I have been a citizen of Cleburne County my entire life. I am a graduate of Ranburne High School. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and in the past year I completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services with an empha sis on family and children.

I am married to Mark Williamson. We will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary this June. We are the proud parents of three children and are blessed with three beautiful grandchildren. We live on a poultry and cattle farm in the Lecta community with our daugh ter.

This spring I retired from Luv-N-Care Child Care Center and Preschool after 23 years of serving as a director and preschool teacher. My husband and I have served as foster par ents in Cleburne County. For 12 years I served on the Cleburne County Board of Education. I did not seek re-election for my third term four years ago due to the fact of not feeling that I could give all the time and attention required to fulfill this very important elected position.

I am seeking a position in this office be cause I feel our whole world revolves around education. Education is important to live. How else can we help provide a bright fu ture for our children if education is not the foundation. I feel that what we plan for our children today will impact everyone’s tomor row. I want to be a helper in assisting all the children in Cleburne County with the proper tools needed to grow and achieve all their ed ucational goals. I feel that leadership is very important in promoting student achievement. Cleburne County has been blessed with some awesome educators in the past and in present day. I know that I can carry on this tradition. I have served with some great leaders in the past and am ready to serve again. The educa tion of students in Cleburne County is very important to us all. They deserve the best.

I was asked the question, “How will you ensure foreign languages will be taught at school”. I feel that teaching our students a for eign language at a very young age would be very beneficial to the student. There have been reports that beginning foreign language stud ies at an early age promotes achievement of higher levels of language proficiency. Master ing a foreign language can open up the world to students, giving them an advantage when they apply for college or for jobs in the pro fessional work field. Studies have proven that students that have mastered a second language tend to earn more money and have access to better jobs. In the public school system set ting budgets are very tight. I feel that we, in the public school setting need to incorporate innovative technologies and media as ways to increase access information to be used for information to teach a foreign language. I feel that we need to equip our teachers with the proper training to offer early language instruc tion to students. In Cleburne County we have some of the best instructors in the state of Al abama. I feel that if given the proper tools and training we can open up this new world to all our students.

Lastly, I have been asked my thoughts on the much debated Common Core. As a parent of a school age student I have researched in formation about the Common Core Standard debate these past couple of years. The Com mon Core State Standards are designed to present a clear understanding of what all stu dents are supposed to be learning in school. With these standards parents and educators have more clarity of what that is expected of students learning across America. These stan dards will ensure that all students will have an equal playing field for their education. All standards will be the same in each state and data will be compared in all states not just the states in which at student lives. Parents also play a big key in the success of the Common Core Standards. Parent’s involvement is very important. Reading with their child at home and questions asked about curriculum learned at school is very important. Common Core Standards also requires younger students to learn more at a quicker pace.

I personally like the idea that students will have an equal opportunity in education. With this being said, I feel that there are still ques tions about the Common Core Standards and systems are waiting for more data to assist in the education of students. This has been a big step in the educational field. Cleburne County as always has worked very hard to offer the best educational services to its students. Our educational team in Cleburne County Schools are the best.

Coroner

Gary Mayfield

I am Gary Mayfield, raised in rural Cleburne County in the Plainview community with my two siblings Elaine Mayfield Harlan and Jo Ellen Mayfield Jackson. My mother is Mary Gilmer Mayfield, and my father was the late J.O. Mayfield. I am married to Regina Hooks Mayfield of Jacksonville, Alabama. Gina and I have three children: Tiffany Mayfield Fuller, Spencer Mayfield, and Bradley Mayfield. My daughter, Tiffany, is married to Jordan Fuller of Edwardsville, Alabama, and Gina and I are grandparents to Dani Rose Fuller. I graduat ed in 1981 from Ranburne High. During high school, I participated in accelerated college placement at Southern Union College. I was granted State EMT license in 1980. After studies at California College of Health Sci ences, I was granted National Licensure from the NBRC and State licensures from Alabama and Georgia as a Respiratory Therapist. I at tended The Alabama Fire College where I earned a Fire Investigation Certificate and was licensed by the State of Alabama as a Certified Fire Investigator. I routinely attend The Ad vanced Regional Response Training Center at the University of South Alabama in Mobile for training in disaster preparation.

Why are you running for this office? :

My dedication to serving my community began at age 17 when I was allowed to join Ranburne Fire and Rescue Squad. Instilled into me was a sense of community service that has shaped my life and formed a commitment to serving the public.

What are your thoughts on bringing inves tigation to the coroner’s office?

The cornerstone of my campaign has been to move the office of Coroner from a post mortem Funeral Home status to a medical In vestigative role. Utilizing 34 years of medi cal experience, 35 years of Fire Department service, 10 years of Fire Investigation and 20 years of management, I would bring my skills, training, and dedication to serve the people of Cleburne County.

How would you fund it?

By using current resources, skills, and train ing already available, we could achieve this with no additional funding. Dedication and commitment goes a long way.

What do you think is the most important part of the job of Coroner?

The most important part of the job of Cor oner is compassion, empathy, and under standing. It is a vital part of the job to take the time to listen, explain, and respond to concerns from the citizens. I will treat people with respect and dignity without favoritism or nepotism regardless of who you are or where you’re from.

How would you handle the job?

My faith teaches me that bad things hap pen to good people, but through the grace of God, good can come from bad. My faith will be exemplified by kindness, compassion, and understanding.

Ben McKnight - Incumbent

My name is Ben McKnight and I am the current Coroner of Cleburne County. I was appointed to this position after having served as Deputy Coroner for ten years. I have been employed at Dryden Funeral Home for over twenty years where I am a liscensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. I am a graduate of Cleburne County High School, class of 1993. I am married to Lori Rooks McKnight and we have two daughters Lela and Ella.

Why are you running for this office?

I have a strong desire to serve others and this position has given me that opportunity for the past twelve years as Coroner and Deputy Coroner. I am running for this office so I can continue to serve Cleburne County and its res idents as the Coroner.

What are your thoughts on bringing investi gations to the Coroners office?

It is already the Coroners job to investi gate all unattended deaths in the county and to certify the cause and manner of death. The Coroner has acess to the State Forensic and Toxicology labs to assist when necessary. The Coroner also has acess to all past medical re cords to assist us in our investigation.

How would you fund it?

The investigations that the Coroner per forms are funded through the Cleburne Coun ty Coroners Budget. It is the responsility of each county in Alabama to have a Medical Examiner or Coroner and to fund them ac cordingly.

What do you think is the most important part of the job of a Coroner?

I believe the most important aspect is to not only do the job as the Coroner, but during the process of the investigation it is important to be there for the family. It is important for me to be honest and compassionate, and to keep the family informed to our findings.

How would you handle that job?

I will treat every call with the same respect, honesty, and compassion as I always have in the past. I will keep the families informed on what we are doing and going to do during the investigation. I will be available to the fami lies not only during the investigation but any time that they may have questions or need to talk to me.

District Judge

Glea Sarrell - Incumbent

I am Warren Glea Sarrell, Jr. I have served as Cleburne County District Judge since 1989. My parents, Dr. Warren G. Sarrell and Martha Jean Pope Sarrell are deceased. My sisters and I were taught to Love The Lord; and to Love your neighbor as yourself. We were expected to do our chores; do well in school and "follow the rules"; and never be late for church. Af ter graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1979, I moved to Cleburne County to begin "a private law practice". In 1984, I was appointed Assistant District Attor ney. I held this position and practiced law until becoming District Judge. A dear friend intro duced me to Carol Bennett, and we married in 1983. For the last 30 years we have made our home and raised our sons, Warren and Tom, on Highway 9 just outside of Heflin. Carol taught at Cleburne Elementary School. After grad uating from Cleburne County High School, Warren and Tom graduated from Jacksonville St. University and the University of Alabama (respectively). They now live and work in Cleburne County. We attend the 1st United Methodist Church of Heflin, Carol's "home church" since childhood. She now works with the Church pre-school program; I make sure the choir has at least one "off-key-voice" each week, and wash the dishes after Men's Break fast each month. Occasionally, if I get the yard mowed, I get to go fishing !

For over 30 years, we have served Cle burne County as volunteers and contributors to many organizations, such as : the Lions Club, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society/Relay for Life, HEARTS, the Athletic and Band Boosters of Ranburne and Cleburne County High Schools, the Volunteer Fire Departments of Cleburne County, Be Ex treme/School Foundation, Sarrell Dental, and The Boy Scouts of America. This communi ty involvement has helped me develop a deep understanding of and appreciation for the lo cal problems and issues that are presented in Court. Perhaps more importantly, it has helped me to learn about and grow to love the many people of Cleburne County. We seek guidance and rely upon the teachings offered to us in the Bible, such as Romans, Chapters 12 & 13.

If elected,are there any changes you will make?

I do not anticipate making any major changes if I have the good fortune of being re-elected. The Court continues to request im provements from its Internet provider/system. Occasionally there are days when the Court has no internet service for extended periods of time. This causes havoc in our "paperless sys tem". We are seeking ways to boost/improve our efficiency. It is prudent to routinely "review and update" Courthouse security to seek ways to improve everyone's safety. I am "open" to financially feasible programs and changes that help the citizens of Cleburne County.

During my 25-year-tenure, there have been NO "Grand Jury Investigations" of the Dis trict Court and there have been NO "Scandals" involving the District Court. If re-elected, I pledge to serve Cleburne County with Honesty and Integrity; and to continue down a path of Continuity and Stability. I believe this is what Cleburne County expects and deserves from its District Judge.

What is/Why a Drug Court ?

This "Court" was originally designed to give "highly-motivated-Defendants" the op portunity to have their arrest record expunged. The Defendant was typically arrested for felo ny drug possession, and had little or no prior record. If the Defendant completes extensive drug treatment/education, testing, and supervi sion, the Court will expunge the Defendant's record. This is important for those seeking jobs, military service, and some Government benefits. The overall recidivism (repeat of fenders) rate has been good.

This type program has been available to Defendants in Calhoun & Cleburne counties for a number of years. It functions best with a large pool of Defendants with the ability to pay the required weekly fees (to off-set the "supervision and drug testing costs"). Thus, our Drug Court is "headquartered" in Calhoun County. Many Cleburne County "resident De fendants" lack the ability to pay the fees. Many other Cleburne County Defendants reside in adjoining counties and States, making it very difficult to participate in a "Cleburne County" drug court. It has been my experience the Dis trict Attorney's office and the arresting Offi cers often negotiate with the Attorney for these type Defendants, in an effort to give them this opportunity (even if it is in another county or State).

Beginning in 2014, Calhoun-Cleburne De fendants may apply to enter the Pre-Trial-In tervention-Program (P.T.I.P). It also includes "record expungement" upon completion of stringent requirements that are appropriate for the charged crime-which does not necessarily have to "drug-related".

Cleburne County has various "local" alco hol/drug treatment and education opportuni ties that do not involve "court intervention". The Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health Center provides a wide range of services on a "slid ing-fee-scale". The local AA Group is viable, supportive, and free. Celebrate Recovery is a "Faith-Based-Ministry" that offers spiritual guidance and education to help people over come their "addiction issues". This program is free and has had superb results, thanks to the wonderful volunteers who are extremely dedi cated to serving others. There are also several "traditional-fee-based" addiction counselors available in Cleburne County.

There is no question that drug addiction is a prevalent problem in our society. I am re ceptive to ideas and programs that will help people overcome their addictions. When I in terview people in jail, I am frequently asked :"Can you release me from jail so I can go to drug rehab treatment ?" Often I ask in response :"Did you seek drug rehab treatment BEFORE you were placed in jail ?" Never have I been told there was no treatment/education avail able. I believe this exchange clearly illustrates a basic premise : if the Defendant is sincere and highly motivated, he/she will seek out and take advantage of available programs-and will succeed. I personally support these programs, and these Defendants-and will be glad to help them overcome their addiction.

Why are you running for this office?

Simply put, I ENJOY serving as District Judge, and that is why I am seeking re-elec tion. It is No secret that the Cleburne County District Court, together with the Cleburne Co Circuit Clerk's Office, enjoy a reputation in "legal circles" of providing extraordinary ser vice. This position has given me many oppor tunities to help people solve various problems- people from all walks of life: some rich, some poor, some precious and sweet, some vicious and mean. Sometimes it is a real challenge to provide everyone with "equal treatment". In fact, there are often days that require extra prayers for patience, wisdom, and strength !

Besides helping others, I also believe I have helped improve our legal system. Most recently, Cleburne County entered into the Al/Ga I.C.P.C. Boarder Agreement. In certain cas es, this can dramatically shorten the length of time it takes Alabama DHR to transfer a child from Cleburne Co. to Ga (or vice-versa) - lit erally from several months of waiting to mere hours. I am proud Cleburne County is among the First in the United States to ratify this type of Agreement.

While it is rewarding and humbling when people take time to call or write with a mes sage of thanks, I view my "work" as a service to my fellow man. I appreciate the opportuni ties given to me as District Judge. If re-elected, I look forward to many more.

Melody Walker

I am Melody Walker. I am married to Scott Walker. I am the daughter of Mac and Annette Smith and my sister is Alicia Hendrix of Ran burne. I have two children, Austin and Andrew Brooks. I am a 1986 graduate of Ranburne High School, 1989 graduate of Birmingham Southern College and 1993 graduate of Bir mingham School of Law. I have practiced law for twenty years.

Why are you running for this office?

It is my desire to serve the people of Cle burne County in a fair, firm, consistent and courteous manner. I believe in public service, as this has always been a value in my family. Public service as a judge is one facet that en sures that our rights and liberties afforded to us by the Constitution are protected.

Are there any changes you would like to make if elected?

I would like to implement an Intensive Fam ily Reunification Court to aid in the families that have children in foster care due to drug use. Children deserve stability. I would also like to implement a drug court in the Juvenile Court and Misdemeanor Court to aid those that are appearing before the Court due to drug re lated issues turn their lives around.

What is a drug court?

A drug court, whether in Juvenile or Mis demeanor Court, would entail several manda tory court appearances, long term consistent counseling, accountability and random drug screens. Progress and compliance with the program would be rewarded, while those who fail to comply would be sanctioned according ly. It would be a conjunctive effort involving the Court, coordinator, mental health profes sional, participant and if applicable, the De partment of Human Resources.

The Intensive Family Reunification Court would be designed as a wrap around service combining drug counseling and child welfare monitoring to ensure that when children in fos ter care are reunited with their families, there is consistent monitoring of their safety and sta bility and long term accountability on the part of the parents. The intensive monitoring would allow the Court to make well informed deci sions about the placement of children in foster care. Similar programs in the State have been successful, some being in place for a number of years. Grants and other programs are available for the funding of this project.

Why is (or why isn’t) it important?

The drug problem continues to grow, and we must find an innovative and effective way to address it.

The right to parent a child is protected by the Constitution. When a child is removed from their family and placed in foster care the State is charged with reunification of the family. An Intensive Family Reunification Court would provide intensive, long term education on the effects of drug use to parents throughout the reunification process to aid in stability for the children. In Misdemeanor and Juvenile Court, it would provide those that appear before the Court intensive education and the opportunity to make a lifestyle change so that they can re main productive members of society.

County Commissioner District 2

Emmett Owen - Incumbent

1. Who are you?

My name is Emmett Owen and I am the Cle burne County Commissioner for District 2. It has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of Cleburne County in District 2.

2. Why are you running for this office?

I am seeking reelection to continue the ground work that I set forth during my first term in office. Some of my future plans in clude: find a home for Search and Rescue; locate funding to build a walking track at the Cleburne County Middle School and to contin ue to answer the call of the people of Cleburne County.

3. How do you think the road department can be improved in the county?

In my opinion, there is a lot of area for im provement in this department. First of all, the road department would be more efficient if they followed a work schedule that coincided with daylight hours. A work order system should be implemented; and each order reviewed and signed off on by the supervisor. Next, addi tional training is needed on heavy equipment. This training could be accomplished by senior employees. Finally, the county should have in place an oversight committee, consisting of commissioners, to review all departments.

4. Cleburne County Search and Rescue is a non funded, volunteer service in the coun ty that has had to come to the commissioners for emergency funding in the last year. How would you propose ensuring search and rescue has adequate funding to serve the people in the county?

Funding for this effort should be manda tory by our county and this funding will be addressed during our next budget year. This service is vitally important for all residenc es of our county and I have several ideas for funding. My first idea is to determine what portion of the money received from PILT, Pay ment in Lieu of Taxes, for public lands can be used to help fund search and rescue. Next, I would recommend that the county create a leg islative committee or board, consisting of two commissioners, to work on new legislation in Montgomery, creating additional funding for search and rescue.

5. What are you thoughts on introducing zoning in to the county?

My district is primarily a municipality, which is the City of Heflin, and this city has zoning in place But, I will work with the oth er commissioners to introduce zoning in their districts.

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