By Erica Kearns
The Clay County Commission met Wednesday, spending the first several minutes of the assembly voting and approving regular items of business such as minutes, assessments, purchase orders, bills and settlements of estates. Designation of Trick or Treat festivities for Clay County was chosen to be on October 31 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Andy Waddell was on the agenda to be appointed to the Clay County Business Development Authority; all Commissioners voted against the motion. President Pierson reaffirmed his vote, stating that he would not elect someone who puts down and degrades Clay County.
The main item on the agenda was the appointing of the new Sheriff of Clay County. The commissioners had narrowed the selection down to three applicants, making their final decision at today’s meeting. Garrett Samples Jr. was unanimously voted in to fill the position of Clay County Sheriff, effective October 1, 2013. Samples is currently serving as the county’s home confinement officer but has lifelong experience in the law enforcement field, being a 911 dispatcher, a prison guard and a policeman in several small town police departments. Samples humbly accepted the position, admitting that he has a very good overall outlook. “The Sheriff’s office here in Clay County is a great bunch of guys,” Samples said. “I think I have the support of the Sheriff’s Department, I think I have the support of the community, so I don’t look for any changes so to speak.”
Jim Paxton, one of the other two contenders for the position, questioned the politics of the commission and the ways in which decisions were made. Speaking very confidently, Paxton first commended the commissioners for serving the county. He continued on to say that despite his confidence in the county’s leadership, he felt that he had been dealt an unfair hand and that the Sheriff position had been filled before interviews were ever conducted; Paxton told the crowd that he had heard two weeks ago from several reliable sources that Samples was the choice for Sheriff. Paxton asked the commission to restore integrity to the county by reading the resumes out loud of each applicant as well as give individual votes to help dispel the rumors of hand-picking. President Pierson reassured those present that a decision had not been made until all applicants were given a fair chance. He went on to say that Paxton was the most experienced candidate, but they did not feel he was the best fit for the position. Pierson invited Paxton to bring any person who had spread such rumors to him in person to confront the issue one on one.
The meeting ended with a flurry of camera shots and television interviews with the new Sheriff Garrett Samples, Jr. Samples will serve until the 2014 election determines the next office holder.