SIDNEY == As 2020 comes to a close, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is bidding a fond farewell the his fellow employees at the sheriff;s office. Lenhart, who didn’t seek re-election to the office, will begin a new career after the first of the year with the Ohio State Auditor’ Office.
During his final interview for his weekly column, Lenhart reflected on his years as sheriff.
“ I’m going to miss the people,” said Lenhart of his coworkers. “Ill miss the interaction with the people.
“Some of these folks I hired the first time I was sheriff. I hired the moms and dads and now I’ve hired the children I’ve watched grow up,” he said.
Lenhart said he’s pleased with the relationships he’s had with other elected officials in Shelby County and surrounding counties.
“I’ve talked to some sheriffs and I’m amazed at how they fight with other office holders,” he said. “For the majority of my career I’ve served with the finest people. We’ve never had an argument about things. We’ve always worked together to fix any problems that might come up. My compliments go out to all those folks.”
Lenhart said the one thing he won’t miss is preparing the annual budget for his office or dealing with personnel matters that “get out of whack.”
“This has been an unbelievable journey for me,” said Lenhart.
He compared his time with the department when he was first sheriff to the “Andy Griffith Show” when times were simpler. When he retires, the sheriff’soffice is filled with all sorts of technology, “which are hard to keep up with.
“The first time I was sheriff, if I wanted to know if someone was wanted for a crime, I had to write the sheriff a letter. Now we do a search on the computer to find out all the wants and warrants,” he said.
He also shared that when he first started his career in la enforcement, there was no DNA testing. Today, DNA results have lead to many arrests in local crimes.
“Technology today is a big deal. It’s hard to keep up,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart said his is confident that Jim Frye will do a good job a the county’s next sheriff.
“Jim will b focused on the job,” he said. “His work ethic is impeccable.”
Lenhart said he will miss all the relationships he has built up through his time as sheriff/
“They are all like family to me,” he said. “It’s going to be hard not seeing them all the time,”
As far as the legacy he’s leaving with the office, he said he’ll leave that to other people to determine.”
“I know that I’m leaving the sheriff’s office in better shape than when I came into office,” said Lenhart. “I feel we’ve been successful in a bunch of arenas.”
For his last column, Lenhart shared five items which he thinks can be improved in 2021.
“I’m on a crusade to make things better,” he said.”Rome asn’t built in a day and I feel there are things we can do to protect ourselves and those around us.”
He feels the number of car crashes can be reduced if drivers don’t speed, don’t drink and drive and drive according to the road conditions.”And to my farmer friends, don;t drive when you’re too tired,” he said.
Safety kits should be in vehicles and family members should always remind their family members to drive safely, he said.
The drug, opioid and alcohol problems are still growing, said Lenhart. He feels it’s being overshadowed by COVID-19 and that the problem is still out there.
“If people recognize that someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, they need to talk to them,: said Lenhart. “”I saw someone last night who a having a problem with alcohol. I will be talking to the person.
“We need to start small and get big when dealing with the problems,” he said.
If a person is addicted to an opioid, he or she may start stealing from family members to purchase drugs.
Preventing fires is something else Lenhart is concerned about. All homes, he said, should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
Theft and fraud is another area Lenhart is concerned about.
“You have a person who’s worked hard their entire life and suddenly it’s all gone because they have been a victim of fraud or theft,” said Lenhart. “They get hoodwinked because of someone else’s greed.”
And the biggest concern he sees is the increasing need for mental health assistance.
“We see people committing suicide because of their mental health,” he said. “COVID-19 is also contributing to the problem as people are isolated from their family members.
“Take time to call someone. Write a letter to them. Keep in touch with your neighbors to make sure they are OK,” said Lenhart. “Get involved in local government, visit the library and attend church. Make new friends
“I was going through Wapakoneta and had stopped at McDonald’s for coffee,” he said. “The person in front of me paid for it. We need to do more random acts of kindness.”
He said helping pick up trash in your neighborhood or around the village or city you reside in is a positive way to pay things forward.
“I think we can do better as a society,” said Lenhart. “We need to look out for our families, friends and neighbors.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.