Court docket loaded again

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 25, 2000

After disposing of most indictments from the June grand jurymeeting, Lincoln County authorities are looking to load up thecourt docket again following last week’s grand jury session.

During the three-day session, which officially concluded theJune grand jury term, 72 additional indictments were issued. Thatraised the total from the two sessions to 146 indictments.

“DUIs, bad checks and property-type crimes were the majority ofthe new cases,” said Jerry Rushing, assistant districtattorney.

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Rushing said the good news was there were no murder ormanslaughters, although some aggravated assault indictments werereturned. About 20 drug-related indictments were also returned.

Names of people indicted are not made public until they areserved with court papers. That service is the responsibility of thesheriff’s department.

Arraignments are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 29, before JudgeMike Smith.

Sheriff Lynn Boyte said authorities will be rounding updefendants and notifying bail bondsmen to have their clients incourt Friday. The sheriff said the department was fortunate in thatthe majority of newly-indicted suspects were already on bond.

During the recent session, law enforcement matters got theattention of the grand jury. As an investigating body, the grandjury may inspect and review a variety of county operations.

Grand jurors commended county, city, area and state lawenforcement officials for their efforts and sacrifices. Theofficers’ pay, though, was a concern for the jury.

“One disturbing trend we noted involves the number of officerswho have left the service they love for better paying jobs,” jurorssaid in their report on the session. “We wish to let our county andcity officials know that in our opinion, these officers are simplynot paid enough for what they do.”

Grand jurors also toured the county’s new jail facility andfound prisoners “securely housed and humanely treated.” The reportsaid the new jail is a “modern, well-designed and much-neededaddition to the courthouse and sheriff’s office.”

“They were impressed with the jail,” Rushing added.

This grand jury also requested the next grand jury conduct amore detailed review of the new jail.

Grand jurors also heard from Department of Wildlife, Fisheriesand Park officials about visitor totals and progress towardimprovements at Lake Lincoln. Lake Lincoln has been a state parksince 1995.

“We can’t believe the number of visitors to our park,” thereport said, citing approximately 9,000 people visiting the parkover the recent July 4th weekend.

Records for state fiscal year 1999, which goes from July 1 toJune 30, showed 231,000 people visited the park. With 160,000visitors so far, grand jurors said park attendance appears to be onpace for an all-time high for the current fiscal year.

With increased attendance at the park, grand jurors recommendedthe hiring of at least one full-time park ranger for Lake Lincoln.Currently, due to the absence of park rangers, county deputies,constables and conservation officers are responsible for park lawenforcement.

“We know how much it means to the citizens of Lincoln County tohave a place where their families can enjoy wholesome recreation,”the report said.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop reported to the grand jury thatthe county is in sound financial condition. Grand jurors alsocomplimented Judge Mike Smith, Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Case, herdeputies and other court officials for their assistance during theterm.