MEIGS COUNTY — There’s a new sheriff in town.
Keith Wood took office of at midnight on Monday morning as the new Meigs County Sheriff after defeating two-term Sheriff Robert Beegle in the November general election as an independent candidate.
The new sheriff made two promotions in the department during his first day in office and also took time to sit down with The Daily Sentinel.
Charles Mansfield, who formerly worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and has been an instructor at Hocking College for over 30 years, was named Chief Deputy. Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Scott Trussell was also promoted to Major within the department.
Wood formerly served as the Meigs County Wildlife Officer for 27 years, was a special deputy with the Meigs County Sheriff’s office for many years and was a deputy with the department for three years. A graduate of Hocking College with a degree in Police Science, Wood has also completed the Ohio Wildlife Officer Training Academy, Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and is a graduate of Eastern High School.
On Monday, Wood noted several goals which he hopes to achieve during his time in office.
Wood stated that involvement in the community and schools, not only by himself but by the entire department, is one of his main goals as sheriff.
“You can’t stop reaching for goals,” said Wood.
A focus on grant funding is something Wood hopes to use to benefit the people of the county.
Wood stated that Meigs County, along with Vinton and Gallia counties, have applied for a grant through the justice department which could fund a three-county drug task force to help fight the drug problem in this area.
Drug prevention — beginning with efforts in the schools — is also something that the new sheriff plans to tackle. This goal could possibly be helped by the addition of resource officer.
Wood spoke about the desire to work closely with other agencies in the county, specifically village police departments, for the mutual benefit of all agencies.
Wood also spoke about plans to work on a website for the department to be more accessible to county residents.
When campaigning earlier this year, Wood commented on his priority if he were elected.
“My priority is the reconstruction and restoration of the department by: increasing grant funding; the wise use and tracking of all money; development of a strong management team; building a Special Deputy’s unit to assist full time officers with warrants, investigations and criminal apprehension; restoration of a K9, search and rescue unit and D.A.R.E.; provide training for officers and safety programs for the community; co-op with other agencies and colleges; attend community meetings; build agency respect and become, once again, accountable and accessible to the citizens.”
He echoed many of those same sentiments on his first day in office.
Wood added that officers will also be provided training and education, while the office will also be working on procedure and new policies for the office.
While the job may be overwhelming, Wood states, “the reality is I can handle it.”