Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Strength says farewell with stories of his time as sheriff

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The political circuit amped up last week in Augusta, with fundraisers for sheriff candidates, a political forum that sparked fireworks at a church, a rousing speech by Sheriff Ronnie Strength that got the old folks at the Com­mittee for Good Govern­ment meeting on their feet twice and a retirement dinner for the sheriff held by the Shield Club of Augusta.

Democratic sheriff candidate Richard Roundtree played host to a good crowd during a meet-and-greet Thursday while Republican opponent Freddie Sanders was meeting and greeting folks at a fish fry.

Roundtree didn’t talk much about what he’d do as sheriff. Instead, he talked about love and overcoming obstacles that divide Augusta and quoted from the Bible and the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I thought it was nice, but when I called Sanders to clarify something he’d said at Strength’s retirement dinner, he asked whether I thought Roundtree had gotten Browning mixed up with a Browning automatic.

Sanders said he had to go or he’d be late for the Henpecked Club supper in Hephzibah because he had to go to the bookstore and buy a book of poetry first.

“Roses are red. Violets are blue,” he said with a laugh.

SAME OLD SAME OLD: The appointment of a white juvenile court judge to the Augusta Judicial Circuit and the terms of black incumbents Ben Allen and Wil­lie Saunders not being renewed last week set the stage for a question that had black Democratic Probate Court Judge candidate Harry James playing the race card and white Republican rival Carleton Vaughn bristling during a forum at Williams Memorial Church on 15th Street.

District attorney, state court solicitor and probate court candidates were asked what they thought about the recent juvenile court appointments. James lambasted Chief Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet, saying the appointments were horrible and unfair and implied they were racially motivated. He said of all the judges in the judicial circuit, there were only two blacks.

Vaughn prefaced his remarks by telling the audience, which audibly agreed with James, that they weren’t going to like what he had to say.

He said that in his time as acting judge in the probate court, “I have never based a decision on what color you are. Every decision I made was made after I had all the facts. You are making a decision on only one fact. You are always saying we need to come together and heal the racial divide. What you have just said is more divisive than anything I have ever heard.”

RONNIE’S METEORIC RISE: At the Shield Club dinner, Sanders told tales about Strength.

“When we had a police department, I was appointed chief of police. Sheriff Charlie Webster took over the sheriff’s department. And we came in and created a department. Sid Hatfield was my assistant chief. We were making assignments, and I called Ronnie in and made him a captain. I said, ‘You’re a captain.’

“He went back to the CID office. About five minutes later, we realized we already had a captain, and we didn’t have a spot where he could be captain. So I said, ‘Call Capt. Strength back over here.’ He walked in, and I said, ‘Captain, you did so good we’re going to promote you.’

“I made him a major. He went back over to CID and told them he’d done such a good job in the three minutes he’d been captain, he’d already been promoted.”

UNINTENDED CONSEQUE­NCES: In Strength’s rookie days, he rode with a senior deputy. One night the senior deputy happened to be passing near his property and turned off to check his turtle traps. Unfortunately, the patrol car got stuck on a little hill. The senior deputy said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” He returned on his lawn tractor and pulled the bumper off the car.

HE’S GONNA GET LOST IN HIS ROCK ’N’ ROLL: When Hat­field was hired in 1965, an article in The Augusta Chronicle said, “Drum­mer takes a new Beat.” Now he’s come full circle – to retirement, where he’ll take up the old beat again.

“I’m going to go back to the drums,” said Hatfield, the former drummer for Johnny Hensley and the Red Hots. There’s talk of a 50th anniversary reunion next year, he said.

Hatfield has been a mainstay in the sheriff’s office for the past 44 years – except for one year in the probation office, another in the district attorney’s office after he saw Sheriff J.B. Dyches was headed in a direction he didn’t want to travel, that being the penitentiary, plus the short time he was on the county police force. He’s served with seven sheriffs and one police chief. He can also tell you something interesting about each one, beginning with George Mutimer.

“He was a gentleman, gracious to people within the community and well liked by everybody,” he said. “He created a summer camp for children off Highway 25.”

“Sheriff E.R. ‘Foots’ Atkins was cordial and easygoing. His wife wasn’t so much. She called him Ryder. She was working a booth at the fairgrounds with the ladies auxiliary, selling hot dogs and hamburgers. A big storm came up and blew the napkins off the counter. She said, ‘You’d better not let any more of them napkins blow off, or I’m going to have Ryder take it out of your paycheck.’ So I went around the corner and got a brick and laid it on top of the napkins.

“Sheriff Bill Anderson was a street man. He stayed in the street all the time. He went to prison. It had something to do with a nightclub on Peach Orchard Road. The Shrimp Boat was the name of it.

“Sheriff James Beck was a disciplinarian. Very firm. You knew right where you stood with Beck. He was a good sheriff. He got killed in a traffic accident on Lump­kin Road a few years ago.

“Sheriff J.B. Dyches was confused. That’s what I remember about him. I wasn’t comfortable with his leadership. So the rest of the story is Dyches was arrested and indicted. I got a call from county attorney Bob Daniel who said to be in the commission office the next morning, that the commission was going to create a county police office and leave the sheriff’s office in charge of managing the jail and courts and that they were considering me and Freddie Sanders to be chief.

“We were both there the next morning, but they couldn’t decide which one of us should be chief. So they appointed Dayton Sher­rouse who was county manager as interim chief. About a month later, they appointed Freddie Sanders. He called me in the DA’s office and asked me to be assistant chief. A little over a year later, the commission abolished the county police and put it all back under the sheriff’s office, and Charlie Webster asked me to serve as chief deputy.

“Freddie Sanders is a businessman. All business. He loves to play and have humor, but when the time comes, he’s a true businessman. He gets it done.

“Sheriff Charlie Webster is much like George Mutimer. Gracious. A gentleman. Liked by everybody.

“Sheriff Ronnie Strength brought the department to where it needed to be. He is professional and well respected by everybody.”

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Riverman1
82265
Points
Riverman1 09/15/12 - 09:59 pm
3
1
Glad to See Everyone is Now Feeling the Love

I’m glad to see this column about the Sheriff’s race is dedicated to love. That’s what I’ve decided to do from now on with this election. I’ll follow the spirit of the column and I’m only going to talk of loving each other. That way I can’t possibly make anyone mad.

What’s wrong with Chief Sanders not feeling the love? He sounds like he doesn’t like poetry either. How can a sheriff appreciate Browning firearms more than Browning the poet? We need to teach him all about love and poetry.

Sylvia best be careful or someone will think she has a personal grudge and vendetta against Sanders instead of only trying to get him to feel the love like I’m doing.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Gage Creed
16740
Points
Gage Creed 09/15/12 - 10:53 pm
2
0
I'm hearing the Ohio

I'm hearing the Ohio Players...Rollercoaster of Love....Say What?

Was that scream really someone being murdered? Or just an urban legend like countyman says?

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 09/15/12 - 11:58 pm
2
0
I wonder if Sylvia will ever
Unpublished

I wonder if Sylvia will ever interview Roundtree?

If I were the AC I would be careful where I place my support....you see what happened the last time a candidate was shoved down the throats of the locals via the daily.

I'll be showing love by thumbing up every comment on this thread. Lol.

What if the citizens of Augusta showed love OUTSIDE of their comfort zone at least 1 time each day next week?

Romans 13:8 Love Fulfills the Law

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. ..Gods law that is, not mans.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 09/16/12 - 09:48 am
0
0
Love makes the world go round,
Unpublished

Love makes the world go round, but money pays the fuel bill.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Cor 13:4

Money can't buy me love, can't buy me love; everybody tells me so....

L O V E is just a word. Actions speak louder than words.

seenitB4
85392
Points
seenitB4 09/16/12 - 09:56 am
2
0
Feel the love?

Why should Sanders feel the love from this place.....they haven't shown him any love...
Tried to say he wasn't a real candidiate---fell over backwards promoting sp on here almost EVERY day...
Put your energy & money where it counts FS.....this paper is not the place & we all know it...
I'm surprised he even talks to yall....just shows he is a gentleman.

fishman960
1444
Points
fishman960 09/16/12 - 11:44 am
1
0
Simple comment

I have a Sanders sign in my front yard,my neighbor has a Roundtree sign in his front yard. Guess we cancel each other out......

allhans
23538
Points
allhans 09/16/12 - 11:47 am
1
0
I love City Ink

and I have long had the feeling that Sylvia can't win....

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/16/12 - 12:02 pm
2
0
fishman960 - But it depends

on how many times your Neighbor Votes?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/16/12 - 12:07 pm
2
0
Good words

“Freddie Sanders is a businessman. All business. He loves to play and have humor, but when the time comes, he’s a true businessman.

    He gets it done."

fishman960
1444
Points
fishman960 09/16/12 - 12:41 pm
1
0
Votes

Best of my knowledge, my neighbor only has 2 votes as well as my 2 votes, but you never know. (Me and wife, him and wife)

seenitB4
85392
Points
seenitB4 09/16/12 - 12:57 pm
1
0
funny thing

Sometimes my husband I cancel each other out....we know we are when we do it...hahah...but we still vote!

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 09/16/12 - 05:36 pm
1
0
Haha, seenit. My parents
Unpublished

Haha, seenit. My parents have been married for 55 years and never missed the opportunity to vote even though they knew each time they were canceling each other out. When I was a kid, when the dinner conversation turned to politics, it was certainly exciting. I would not trade that learning experience for anything at all. My parents disagreed but one was never the "enemy" of the other.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/16/12 - 08:37 pm
1
0
Gotta love your parents <3

Haha ... my mom still thinks it's AGAINST THE LAW to tell anyone who she voted for AND will not ever pull the tags off a mattress! God forbid those mattress police start doing a door to door search ... she won't be getting jail time. :p

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/21/12 - 10:22 am
0
0
IS IT TOO LATE

To ask Ronnie to run as a write in ?

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