Matthews Ruffles Feathers at Kershaw Meeting

January 12, 2011

Investigative Reports

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The NerveBy Janice Caldwell
Citizen Reporter

 

New Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews wasted little time with niceties, ruffling feathers at the Jan. 4 Kershaw County Council meeting with allegations of misuse of money earmarked for the county’s victim’s advocate position by the county magistrates office.

Matthews’ claims of fiscal misappropriation were rebutted by Chief Magistrate Eugene Hartis, who said he expected an apology from. Hartis said his office is audited annually and no discrepancies have been uncovered.

Matthews claimed there has been misuse of the victim’s advocate funds by the magistrates office, adding that there are strict guidelines for the use of such funds and that his office would be sure to use funds correctly.

Hartis said he is aware that the victim’s advocates fund has strict rules regarding use of funding, but said the need exists in his office. Matthews appears to want the victim’s advocate position to be operated out of the sheriff’s office, while Hartis said he and the sheriff’s office needed to work together.

Hartis went on to request money to hire a victims’ advocate for the magistrate’s office.

For the remainder of the fiscal year, $18,000 would be required to fill the position, with another $38,000-$40,000 required for the following year, Hartis said.

Matthews addressed the council on several other issues, as well. He said at present his office is understaffed, adding that having six deputies on each shift was insufficient manpower.

Matthews also said the county’s fleet of patrol cars is in need of replacement because of high mileage and age. A request was also made to upgrade the radio system, which are incompatible with other county operations and other countries.

The FCC mandates that this is to happen by the end of next year.

In addition, Matthews said his department doesn’t have a deputy fully certified in DUI procedures.

Matthews stated the above requests would be cost neutral to the county as funding would be obtained through fees and drug seizures.

The matter will come back before county council on Jan. 27.

In other action, Amy Schofield from the Kershaw County Library spoke about a grant she had received which will pay for two part-time positions that will seek to promote early-learn-to-read programs. Schofield will work with churches and in low-income areas.

The grant needs to have a 34 percent match of funds, but Schofield already has that in her budget and did not ask for additional funds.

Janice Caldwell is a resident of Kershaw County.