ELLINWOOD — Barton County Commissioner Don Cates and Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir hosted the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce last Friday held at Ellinwood District Hospital.
Bellendir said that he is the 29th sheriff in Barton County. He explained to the group about his responsibilities as sheriff.
Sheriff’s officers keep the jail, service the civil process with paperwork and subpoenas, write speeding tickets and are accountable for all of the crime in rural areas.
He told the crowd about operating the jail. There are currently 87 people in the jail.
“It’s like having 87 children,” Bellendir said. Laundry has to be done, everyone has to be fed and some have medical issues or special diets. For a tour of the jail call the sheriff’s department.
Bellendir has a special perspective on the job because he has been a sheriff’s officer since 1984.
He has made some changes and eliminated the position of captain since he took office in January. The captain has been made the undersheriff and the K-9 officer works late afternoons and evenings instead of rotating through the schedule.
Earlier this month, the sheriff’s department confiscated $16,000 worth of drug money. The funds will go towards training or equipment.
Bellendir said some of the recent burglaries lately were done by meth addicts. “That drug is causing people to steal to support their habit,” he said.
He also talked about trustee labor. “These are low-risk prisoners,” Bellendir said. “I’m confident they won’t run off. Most of the guys like to be out of the jail. Many organizations have used them.”
They are available for churches, civic organizations, and other non-profits. For those needing help, call the sheriff’s office.
On another topic, Bellendir did emphasize the importance of seeking shelter when the sirens go off. “Our officer’s get out and spot storms,” said Bellendir. “If there are sirens, there is a (tornado) on the ground coming toward the populace.”
Commissioner Cates explained that during the summer months, he flies a crop duster out of Pratt and it is hard to get hold of him. However, during the rest of the year, he is more available.