Melton declines to pursue Polk sheriff’s job

Published 3:14 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

Melton issued the letter (see below) less than a day after he was called to the sheriff&squo;s office, along with county attorney Tom Hix, to accept Chris Abril&squo;s &dquo;retirement announcement.&dquo;

Chief Deputy Tony Roberson&bsp; took over as acting sheriff after Abril&squo;s resignation took effect at midnight on Sunday. Because Abril is a Democrat, it&squo;s now up to the Polk County Democratic Party to select a permanent replacement. The party will present its nomination for the position to the county board of commissioners for approval.

Melton, a Democrat, had been mentioned by officials as one prospetive candidate for the position. Other potential candidates mentioned include current and former law enforcement officers in Polk County, including some former members of the Polk County Sheriff&squo;s Office.

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The Democratic Party has not indicated which candidates it is considering, and it&squo;s unclear if there is a candidate supported by the county commissioners.

Commissioners have over the past year raised some concerns about operations at the sheriff&squo;s office, and even suggested the possibility of moving to a countywide law enforcement system.

Editor&squo;s Note: The following is a letter from Tommy Melton, chairman of the Polk County Board of Commissioners. Melton issued the letter to the Bulletin on Friday morning.

Two years ago, I ran for the Board of Commissioners, and I was elected by the citizens to serve in that capacity for the next four years. When I made the decision to run for County Commissioner, I saw needs for Polk County that had not been addressed for many years.

My goal was to bring needed changes to Polk County that would make Polk County still the best place in the world to live. Some of the changes I felt were needed were: to protect the water that exists in Polk County, to develop a comprehensive land use plan, to develop an erosion control ordinance that protects our slopes and mountaintops. I saw the need to complete the renovation of our beautiful court house, and now we have a court house that we can be very proud of.

Some of our county buildings have suffered from neglect over the years, for example, the Jervey Palmer building, Stearns Gym and the old Polk County Library (the decision was made for this building to be used for Virtual Education, giving our Polk County students the opportunity to further their education through college credits). It was necessary for the Board to recognize the need to vacate the Jervey Palmer building, where we have Social Services, the Meeting Place/Senior Center, Veterans Affairs, Juvenile Evaluation Center, etc. This board has purchased the Classical School property, and we will be moving the Meeting Place/Senior Center to this location. We are currently working to move Social Services and other agencies from the Jervey Palmer building.

I am very proud of what this current board has accomplished in two short years. However, I fully realize that the journey is not complete. Polk County has many remaining needs. Having served as the Chairman of this Board for the past two years (an honor I am very proud of and deeply grateful for), it is imperative that I see that we continue to improve the quality of life in Polk County.

As everyone knows, the Democrat Party is responsible for replacing Sheriff Chris Abril. I have had interest in that position. I have had conversations with lots of people that live in Polk County. I believe it is more important for me to serve the four years that I was elected by all the citizens of Polk County and to fully realize my dream of continuing to make Polk County a home that all the citizens are proud of. With all this being said, I am not a candidate for Sheriff&squo;s Abril&squo;s replacement.

In closing, I wish to thank all the citizens of Polk County for the opportunity that was given to me to serve you, and I look forward to the next two years in serving you as your County Commissioner.


Tommy W. Melton