Morgan Deputy Reserves aid community in different ways
"They are our eyes and ears out there. The reserve deputies are a helpful asset and we appreciate them a lot," said Chief Deputy Vince Shambaugh talking about the Morgan County Sheriff's group of volunteer reserve deputies.
Reserve Deputy Lieutenant Lee Fox heads up this group of dedicated volunteers. He is assisted by Reserve Deputy Sergeants Scott Householder and Paul Woodward. There are 13 reserve deputies in all that perform a variety of duties on a part time basis. They help relieve the workloads of regular full time sheriff's deputies.
Lee Fox has been a reserve deputy for the past 22 years. Prior to becoming a reserve deputy, Fox was a Town of Bath police officer for twenty years.
He remembers when Sheriff Ron McIntire was also a police officer with the town back in the 1960s under Chief Loyd Williams.
"I was Ron's boss back then, but now he is my boss," Fox recalls. "We always get a chuckle out of that."
Most of us see reserve deputies at work during the school year when they direct traffic to allow school buses, cars and our children to exit safely from school onto main roads. But do you know what other duties they perform?
"Our most important duties are traffic and crowd control," Fox said. Fox goes on to explain that reserve deputies are present at most major indoor or outdoor school events such as baseball games, football games, basketball games and track meets.
Once when Fox arrived early to direct traffic after school, he counted the number of buses and cars in the Elementary and High School parking lots. On that day there were 300 cars and 57 buses, all of which had to exit school grounds onto U.S. 522.
The Morgan County Deputy Reserves are assigned four patrol cars. Although they do not carry guns or make arrests, reserve deputies do patrol the county when time allows.
"There is no particular day or time when we patrol. We patrol whenever we have some free time," Fox said.
All four cars are equipped with police band radios that connect reserve deputies with state, county and town police as well as fire, rescue and 911 emergency services.
In addition to Fox, Woodward, P.L. Schoentube and Gerald Chaskers have patrol cars. These are the four reserve deputies that are retired. The other nine reserve deputies have day jobs.
Reserve deputies direct traffic at funerals and escort funeral processions. If a funeral procession begins in another county but is headed to a cemetery in Morgan County, a reserve deputy meets the procession at the county line.
Reserve deputies are sometimes called upon to escort prisoners to jails in Maryland, Pennsylvania or West Virginia. Reserve deputies are also often called in to help with traffic and crowds at the scene of a fire.
Fox calls upon reserve deputies to help out at many county and town events such as the Morgan County Fair, Apple Butter Festival, Paw Paw Memorial Day Parade and Great Cacapon July 4 Parade.
Reserve deputies Bobbie McBee and A.C. Bohrer are bailiffs at Magistrate and County Court.
Lots of hours
Fox has to file a report quarterly listing the number of hours worked by the deputy reserves.
"In any given three month period, I report between 300 and 700 hours," Fox said.
Morgan County Deputy Reserves are not paid and work strictly as volunteers. They have to buy their own uniforms and other necessary equipment. For example, Fox has spent over $2,000 on police radios and scanners.
The other reserve deputies are Jan Didawick, Carol Sue Fox (Lee Fox's wife), Bill Lewis, husband and wife Rick and Michelle Sirbaugh and Vera Walls.