LEESBURG -- Lee County Code Enforcement officer Jim Wright will be allowed to carry a weapon while on duty after the Lee Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night to establish a marshal's department in the county.
Commission Chairman Ed Duffy had to break a 2-2 tie after Commissioners Bill Williams and Rick Muggridge voted to establish the office and Commissioners Betty Johnson and Dennis Roland voted against.
"I think Jim Wright is an outstanding man and is as well-qualified as anyone to carry a firearm," Roland said before the vote. "But I've got a lot of calls from people in the county concerned about this issue."
Roland said after the meeting he voted the way he felt his constituents wanted.
"I've gotten several calls opposed to this; it's nothing against Jim," he said. "But I was elected to do what the people in the community want."
Johnson said she didn't think now was the time to start a marshal's office in the county.
"I just don't think we're ready for a new office at this time," she said. "But now that the vote has been taken, I will support my fellow commissioners."
Duffy said he voted in favor of the measure so that Wright and any subsequent Code Enforcement officer hired by the county will have a means of protecting themselves in emergency situations.
"Jim is POST- (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified, and as long as he maintains certification, I think he should be allowed to carry a weapon and protect himself," the chairman said.
The commission also voted to approve Advantage Vinyl Siding and Roofing's low bid of $18,250 to re-roof the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building. Roland and Muggridge had expressed reservations about Advantage at the county's Aug. 9 work session, but Roland said Tuesday he'd commented in error.
"I was mistaken when I said at the last meeting that Advantage had done some (inadequate) work on my house," Roland said. "It was actually someone else, and I apologize to (Advantage)."
Commissioners also voted to declare two county-owned pickup trucks surplus; approved a $59,934.80 lease/purchase bid for two new tractors from Albany Tractor Co.; OK'd a state-mandated outdoor watering restriction ordinance, and gave approval to $30,000 in special-purpose local-option sales tax funding for an intersection improvement project at U.S. Highway 19 and state highways 32 and 195.