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Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Sheriff's office adds more deputies

By Margie Wuebker
More sheriff deputy cruisers are traveling area roadways.
Deputies Megan Baker and Mike Link, both of Coldwater, began their new duties Tuesday. Deputy Carla Guggenbiller of Fort Recovery will start patrols Sunday. All three formerly worked as corrections officers at the sheriff's department.
"These are quality people who will make life safer for residents as well as fellow officers," Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said. "The days of one deputy on patrol during some shifts are hopefully over."
The Mercer County Commissioners designated $111,000 to the sheriff's budget for the addition of three deputies during budget talks last fall. The hirings were delayed, however, due to fears of a fiscal shortfall.
In 2009, three deputies patrolled the county 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Cuts were made throughout the county in following years, and Grey earlier this year reported one deputy was assigned to the road 76 percent of the time. Consequently, response times for emergency calls increased from 11 to 19 minutes.
Baker, a former member of the sheriff's explorer post, joined the department in 2005 as a part-time corrections officer. She later became a road deputy until resigning in July 2010.
The officer, who is married and a graduate of Rhodes State College with an associate's degree in criminal justice, returned as a sheriff's reserve officer in January.
Link, a 2003 graduate of the Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy at the Wright State University-Lake Campus, became a corrections officer in July 2005. He also served in the reserve unit from May 2003 to July 2005. He is engaged to marry in September.
Guggenbiller received an associate degree in criminal justice from Rhodes State College and joined the corrections staff in July 2010. She is planning an April wedding.
Hiring additional patrol officers has resulted in other personnel changes.
Douglas Wuebker of St. Henry, a corrections officer, moves from part-time to full-time status replacing Link. He is a graduate of the Rhodes State Police Academy.
James Steinburg of St. Marys, who heads the Grand Lake Police Academy at the Lake Campus, replaces Wuebker in handling court duties and making inmate transfers.
Another corrections officer will be named to replace Guggenbiller following required background checks, Grey said.
Depending on finances, Grey hopes to add another deputy for patrol later this year or in early 2012.
"We will still be down three patrol officers at that point," he said, referring to other positions that were not filled in recent years. "However, we will not consider filling those positions until 2013."
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