by Ron Gregory
HAMLIN — Although information concerning the relationship between the Lincoln County Sheriff and County Commission is sparse, it is fairly obvious some perhaps negative interaction is taking place.
Earlier, newly-elected Republican Sheriff Gary Linville had complained that his efforts were being hamstrung by the Commission. Linville said, in late December 2016, that commissioners would not approve his selection of a new chief deputy; that most of the department was scheduled to be on vacation the first week of January; and that he was not given access to a credit card to pay for gasoline in his own cruiser.
Since then, Sheriff Gary Linville has been largely absent from public view. He came into office on a nearly 800-vote margin over incumbent Democrat Sheriff Ken Farley in the November 2016 general election. Democrats have generally controlled local public seats in Lincoln County for years. Some blamed the initial disagreement between the Sheriff and Commissioners on party politics. The three county commissioners are all Democrats.
Since Linville has not spoken to the press in over a month, it has been difficult to determine what the current status of his office is regarding the county commission. However, his apparent selection of Charleston attorney John Teare to represent him seemingly means the two are still not of one accord.
Teare, who is the legal representative for the state Sheriff’s Association, said he “often help(s) Sheriffs around the state.” He said he had visited the Lincoln courthouse in Hamlin in an effort to “clarify some issues.”
The Charleston attorney then went out of town and was just back today (Monday). He said he “did not believe” he had been provided with information he requested from courthouse officials. “I haven’t had time to go through all my mail and messages, but I don’t think the questions are answered.”
Teare did not want to go into detail concerning the matter, but said the information he requested involved “the county’s civil service procedures.” He added that the issues had to do with “various staffing issues.”
Teare said he requested the documentation from the County Clerk’s office. A representative there, where Clerk Diril Baker was out of town for medical reasons, said she believed Teare had actually spoken with the county administrative assistant, Mary Napier.
An attempt to contact Napier was unsuccessful Monday afternoon. A message was left for Baker.
Reports over the weekend insisted Linville’s deputies were being evicted from the county office space they were occupying. Along with an evidence room, rumors said Linville had been told there was no longer room for his deputies and the evidence in county-owned property. Teare said nothing about those rumors.
Teare concluded, “I am investigating the situation to determine the correct course of action. We have not settled on that at this point.”