City's work getting done, even though mayor is in jail
BERRYVILLE -- The city business of Berryville will continue -- barely missing a beat with elected Mayor Tim McKinney in jail and Acting Mayor Joel Gibson at the helm.
Gibson, the eldest alderman serving on city council, and the one with the most seniority, was granted special privileges to visit McKinney in jail -- although he is not related by blood or marriage as required.
Sheriff Bob Grudek said Gibson was granted special status "to allow him to conduct city business," although he will be required to adhere to all other visitation requirements, such as pre-scheduling his visits 24 hours in advance, visiting on visitation days and limiting his visits to the 20 minutes allowed.
Gibson said he visited McKinney once already, accompanied by his pastor, and said he expects to visit maybe once a week until McKinney is released.
Gibson said he has also visited city offices to let municipal employees know he is available if needed.
McKinney is serving time because he violated the terms of a previous plea bargain for drinking and driving and being in possession of marijuana -- for a second time in less than a year.
He was ordered to serve the full amount of his original 39 day suspended sentence, and he received another 15 days from a Washington County judge on his most recent arrest. He was also ordered to undergo extensive substance abuse counseling through the Washington County Drug Court. (See related story on Page 3.)
His first day of mandatory drug court program participation was Monday.
According to jail authorities, he was transported to and from drug court by Washington County officials.
His attorney, Beth Storey, said if he complies with all requirements of the drug court program, his second-offense marijuana possession charge, a felony, will be dismissed.
She said McKinney is charged with the felony. He has not been convicted, and that felony charge can be dismissed with successful completion of the program.
As an inmate at the Carroll County Detention Center, Sheriff Grudek said McKinney was placed in a newly created "pod" with two other inmates who are also serving time for misdemeanor offenses.
He said the pod was created from a multi-use room previously used for various purposes, including clergy visits.
He said four beds were installed, along with a TV, and a table and chairs. He said a dividing wall in the room was raised for restroom privacy, to meet jail standard requirements.
After learning McKinney knows how to cook, Grudek said McKinney was given a trusty position in the kitchen because he qualifies as a misdemeanor offender with no violent history.
McKinney could possibly be placed in a community service program for that same reason, Grudek said, working out in the community performing tasks as directed.
"We'll see how we can utilize him while he's here," said Grudek. "Being a trusty is beneficial to any inmate, instead of staying in the pod."
Grudek said he had been asked if McKinney could participate in a work release program, but said that is not up to him, it is up to a judge.
He said it appears McKinney does not qualify because work release, he explained, is for certain qualifying employed individuals who could lose their jobs because they are in jail on a court commitment.
McKinney doesn't fit the criteria, he said, because he did not hold a job, other than mayor, at the time his court commitment began.
Grudek also mentioned that McKinney might be allowed to serve his Washington County 15 day sentence in Carroll County, if everyone involved is in agreement.
Grudek said McKinney would have to pay his own way if that happens, at a rate of $35 a day for room and board at the Carroll County Detention Center.
Personally, Grudek said, he hopes McKinney's time at the detention center goes well.
"I hope he evaluates what has happened and takes action to get his life back in order," Grudek said. "We're not here to judge anyone. That's not our job."