Sheriff issues public apology

Sheriff Alfonzo Williams presented his concerns to the Burke County Board of Commissioners April 14.

Sheriff Alfonzo Williams presented his concerns to the Burke County Board of Commissioners April 14.

The Board of Commissioners met with Sheriff Alfonzo Williams April 14 in a manner that greatly contrasted with the intensity witnessed since late last summer.

Williams began last week’s work session by publicly apologizing to County Manager Merv Waldrop.

“When I presented a while back to the commission, I was pretty emotional about our plans and I referred to Merv as clerk,” he said. “I did it several times and it was intentional because I was mad. It is in my character to apologize if I ever offend anybody. I am very sorry that I acted out of character. It is not representative of who my mother raised. It is not what I should have done.”

Waldrop and Commissioner Lucious Abrams were not present. However, Williams pledged to apologize to Merv privately as well. Additionally, Williams presented the panel with a “somewhat exhaustive list” of concerns he desired the board to address. Williams asked the panel to explain the process by which the county makes decisions regarding the allocation of SPLOST funds. He explained the BCSO’s need for updated cameras, tasers, vehicles and computers. He asked for the panel’s direction on needing more space, including his request for a training center with an outdoor firing range. He downgraded his request from the 50-acres he asked for previously, that included room for growth.

“Really, what we need is a metal building with a classroom big enough to hold 60 people,” he said. “And we need a few acres.”

During the question-and-answer session that lasted nearly 90 minutes, Williams informed the board about water issues in the county-owned BCSO building. Commissioner Evans Martin pointed out that if the Sheriff is dealing with structural damage or leaks the BOC needs to be involved.

“We don’t know unless we are told,” he said to the Sheriff.

Williams went on to inform the Board of an air conditioning issue as well. “We need to be involved so that we can fix it before everything deteriorates,” said Chairwoman Terri Lodge Kelly and then encouraged Williams to include the BOC in spite of past misunderstandings.

Before the meeting concluded, Williams discussed the need for recruitment and retention incentives. He denied rumors that he recently hired a multitude of new office workers.

Near the end of the meeting, Williams said he thought the meeting cleared up some ambiguity and referred to it as a “learning session.” He thanked the board and said he hoped his apology would go a long way.

“If we don’t work together, it’s the taxpayers who suffer,” Williams told the panel. Kelly agreed and reiterated that a cordial relationship is in the best interest of the citizens. After it ended, Commissioner Art lively said he thought the session went very well.

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