SIDNEY — Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart and his deputies are ready to “arrest” local citizens as part of the county’s bicentennial celebration. The first arrests will be made Saturday, April 27, during the Hardin event recognizing the village as the first county seat for Shelby County.
“the men and women at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office are excited to play a role in the 200th celebration. We think the jail will set the stage for the celebration,” said Lenhart during his weekly interview.
Lenhart said he met with Tilda Phlipot, Shelby County Historical Society director, to discuss how the sheriff’s office could be involved with the celebration.
“I wanted something that we could use for the entire 200th celebration,” he said.
The replica of the old jail is 8 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet in dimensions.
“I wanted what we do to be meaningful,” said Lenhart. “We’ll be able to move this from town to town if they want to use it during their festivals.”
At the end of the jail’s journey, it will find a home at the Shelby County Fairgrounds where it will be located at the sheriff office’s headquarters.
“We’ll be able to use the ‘jail’ for a long, long time,” said Lenhart.
When the jail is at a festival, people will have the opportunity to have their picture taken inside it. Lenhart said fundraisers could be held by using the jail.
“At the Hardin event, people will be arrested,” said Lenhart. “I think we’ll be letting them out of jail for $5. If they don’t have that much, we’ll take whatever they have.”
All money raised will be donated to the Shelby County Historical Society.
With an idea in mind, Lenhart approached Roger Detrick, Lacal Equipment CEO. The two have been friends forever.
“I went to Roger and said I wanted something made up,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart suggested one type of material to use for the jail and Detrick countered that and said steel tubing should be used.
“He said it was stronger and a lot lighter. I asked him if it would be more expensive and he replied, ‘What do you care if it’s expensive if I’m picking up the expense?” Lenhart said.
Lenhart said he’s grateful for Lacal and Detrick’s support with the project. Lacal employees Jerry Brock and Bill Kohler put the jail together.
Lenhart said the jail will include a spittoon and chamber jar, which was used before flush toilets were invented.
A wooden sign, made by the Fairlawn High School FFA members, is embossed with Shelby County Jail — 1819 — Sheriff D. Dingman. Daniel V. Dingman was the first sheriff for Shelby County.
The chamber — or parlor — pot is owned by Maxine Metz. It’s an enamel bowl with a lid “that looks like a bucket,” said Lenhart.
The spittoon, he said, belongs to his youngest daughter, Rebecca. “She doesn’t chew tobacco so I’m not sure how she got it.”
The door has an opening for a food tray to be passed to the prisoner, he said.
In addition to having the jail at Saturday’s celebration in Hardin, Lenhart will also be one of the flag bearers who will be bringing the Shelby County flag from Sidney Middle School to Hardin.
“I’ve got a horse and buggy for Saturday,” he said. “I’llbe dressing as Sheriff Dingman would have in 1819. I’ll be bringing the flag into Hardin and will be representing 200 years of men who have served as sheriff in Shelby County.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.