By Debby Woodin
MOUNT VERNON, Mo. —
Voters in Lawrence County will be asked Nov. 6 to renew a sales tax that is used for road and bridge maintenance.
The ballot question will ask if a half-cent sales tax may be renewed for seven years.
Presiding Commissioner Sam Goodman said the tax was initially approved in 1984 and has been renewed by voters several times for three- and four-year periods. It provides about $1.5 million a year for road and bridge work. The current tax is in force until early 2014.
Republican incumbent Sheriff Brad DeLay, who is challenged by Aurora lawman Clinton Danforth, a Democrat, says he has cut the jail inmate population in half by painting the jail pink, issuing pink uniforms for the inmates, forming them into work details and serving a restricted menu. He said the daily meals consist solely of oatmeal for breakfast, bologna sandwich for lunch and beans and cornbread for supper.
“The jail has 54 beds,” he said. “Before (the changes), we were averaging 65, so we were overpopulated. Since going to the new program, we’re going to 30 (inmates) or less. The inmates don’t like it, so they speed up their court processes, and I would like to say it has cut down on crime. It also has saved the county a considerable amount of money.”
He said he also has posted warrant and inmate information and other data on the department’s website so that the public can view it.
DeLay attended the University of Oklahoma and transferred to Missouri Southern State University, where he attended the police academy and earned a degree in law enforcement. He is seeking a second term.
Danforth has been employed by the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force. He previously worked in the patrol division and on the special response team at the Barry County Sheriff’s Department after having worked at the Marionville Police Department. He graduated from the MSSU police academy in 2003.
He believes the county’s various law enforcement agencies should train together to be prepared for high-risk incidents and disasters. He would form a county special-response team to train for those types of emergencies.
“In order to provide the county with the protection that the public is entitled to, I strongly believe that all areas of law enforcement need to have good working relationships,” he said. He said that would pool resources and cut crime.
He also would provide community policing. “I believe that the public should know who is out there protecting you and your property,” he said.
Voters will choose Republican David Botts or Democrat William Gerald Malan as Western District commissioner to succeed Rodney Barnes, who did not seek re-election.
Botts, 54, is employed in the engineering department at Southwest Manufacturing in Aurora. He retired in 2011 as a teacher with Monett and then Mount Vernon schools.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in secondary education of math and physics and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Missouri State University.
He formerly served on the Mount Vernon School Board for 18 years.
Malan, of Pierce City, could not be reached.