Lincoln sheriff faces two primary opponents
There are three Republican candidates vying for Lincoln County Sheriff in this year’s primary election: Incumbent Sheriff Curt Folger, Tyler Chase Marcum and Richard Rhodus. There is one Democrat running for the office, Johnny Williams, who will be unopposed on the May 22 ballot.
Tyler Chase Marcum
Born and raised in Lincoln County, 27-year-old Tyler Chase Marcum is one of three Republican candidates to throw his hat in the race for sheriff.
Marcum currently serves as an officer with the Stanford Police Department and a lieutenant firefighter with the Stanford Fire Department. His law enforcement career began as a deputy under the current sheriff, Curt Folger, seven years ago.
“I am very appreciative of him giving me that opportunity,” Marcum said.
While he got his start under the current sheriff, Marcum said he has several new ideas that would help him meet the goal of bettering the county — which is why he is running for the office, he said.
One of those ideas is incorporating a full-time narcotics detective to focus solely on drug issues the county faces.
“That’s all they (narcotics detective) would do,” Marcum said. “That’s not to say the deputies now aren’t doing a good job, but they’re just so busy it’s hard to follow up. It’s hard for those guys to do that because as soon as they arrest somebody, take them to jail, and lodge them, instead of working and following up on that case or having time to interview that person, they have to hurry up, get them to jail and get on the next call.”
Drugs are the root of a lot of illegal activity in the county, Marcum said.
“All of your theft, burglary, revolves around the drug epidemic,” he said. “It’s been statistically proven that when your drug arrests go up, your thefts and burglaries go down.”
Another area of focus for Marcum would be the ongoing training of deputies and special deputies.
As someone who has completed training through the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, ongoing education and training for law enforcement is a big deal, Marcum said.
“Training is a big issue, especially for special deputies,” he said. “They’re a great tool, they’re a great asset, but as the sheriff, you’re accountable for everybody who works underneath you. So the more training I can provide to them, and the better understanding of laws and how to do little things…”
As a certified Field Training Officer, Marcum said he has experience providing training to new recruits and officers.
“They go through an FTO (Field Training Officer) process to teach them and show them the ropes. At the same time, the FTO is constantly evaluating those new officers to see if they will be able to cut it in the long run,” Marcum said. “Depending on the size of your department, they’ll ride and train with multiple officers.”
If he were to become sheriff, new officers would ride with a certified unit, such as a sergeant or road deputy, then with a chief deputy and end with the sheriff.
In addition to being a police officer, lieutenant firefighter, arson investigator and certified emergency medical technician, Marcum also assists the Lincoln County Search and Rescue team, along with his dog Meshak, a bloodhound trained in human tracking.
Marcum said accountability and training are the two areas he would focus on in his first year as sheriff, if put there by voters.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “You have to stay up-to-date on your training and things of that nature because if you don’t, you’re just going to be left behind.”
Leading by example is the best way to inspire new and existing law enforcement agents to receive ongoing training and education in their field, he said.
“There is personnel there now that would obviously be an asset to have and keep for those reasons,” he said.
Marcum said if elected, he would also focus on maintaining and updating equipment.
“Five years from now, we’ll be outdated again. So let’s go ahead and put things in place to plan and, not replace as needed, but before we get to that point … things like having equipment and uniform allowances and setting up a fleet program for vehicles,” he said.
Outside of being a full-time first responder, Marcum said he enjoys working with young kids, especially when it comes to sports. Marcum is currently the assistant football coach for the Lincoln County High School football team.
Voters have returned Curt Folger to the office of Lincoln County sheriff for three terms in a row and it’s what he has accomplished in those three terms that he believes will put him back in the same position for a fourth term.
“They (sheriff’s office employees) always call me ‘old tight-butt’ but now we’re reaping the seeds that I’ve sewed by being tight, like having equipment to do our job. Now we have around 20 employees with just about the same budget that I started out with,” Folger said. “I know that the citizens see a lot of our vehicles all over the county. I’ve actually got deputies in just about every area of the county to help serve the citizens.”
Eradicating illegal narcotics from Lincoln County has been a major focus for the sheriff’s office, Folger said, and one that will remain a focus if he is reelected.
“We were in the top three of Post 7’s (Kentucky State Police, Richmond Post) methamphetamine eradication,” Folger said.
Under his leadership, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has also increased the number of K9 units to three — essentially providing a K9 and K9 handler 24 hours a day, he said.
“In the last year, we were able to work with the citizens of our county and different businesses that saw what we wanted to do with the drug issues in the county and they came through with donations,” he said. “We’re pretty much going to have a dog (K9) available at all times.”
For the last four years, the sheriff’s office has also provided the area with a prescription medicine drop-off box.
“We were told by Post 7, Kentucky State Police, that we were one of the largest counties with medicine being turned over,” he said. “In my view, that’s keeping drugs off the street also.”
Prescription medications that are left in the drop box come from a variety of sources such as leftover medication from medical procedures, or from family members of the deceased, Folger said.
The sheriff’s office then takes those prescription medications and turns them over to the Kentucky State Police to be properly destroyed, he said.
Folger also takes credit for creating a police presence inside Lincoln County Schools by implementing the first School Resource Officer program in the district during his time.
“I foresaw what we’re seeing now in schools and I worked out a relationship with the school and an agreement where we were able to put a full-time deputy in the school system, where the school actually paid the salary,” he said.
Since then, the Stanford Police Department has taken over the school resource officer program, a decision that Folger said he supports.
“With the school being in the city, I felt like it would work out best for the city officers to take (that on),” he said. “I didn’t see any problem with that because we have enough going on in the county. But I feel awful proud about getting the school resource officer together.”
Providing citzens and business owners with security checks while on vacation or after business hours is another thing Folger said he has implemented during his time as sheriff.
“Whenever people go on vacation, they’ll come into the office and fill out paperwork and every day we go around and check their residence to make sure everything is good and we do area business checks late at night after the businesses are closed,” he said.
Folger said the sheriff’s office has also returned thousands of dollars to local business owners.
“When we first came in, I’m very proud to say, that we ended up with probably a three-foot stack of cold checks that had never been served to people,” Folger said. “We got all of those served.”
Folger, 60, was also born and raised in Lincoln County — a place he said he is proud to call home.
“I truly believe Lincoln County is the greatest county in the state,” Folger said.
In addition to being sheriff, Folger also serves on the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association Board of Directors and has been recognized as the Bluegrass Area Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
Outside of law enforcement, Folger said he enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his wife Melissa, as well as his children and grandchildren.
Richard Rhodus wasn’t born in Lincoln County but he’s lived here for the last 31 to 32 years. He said it’s the lack of change over the last decade or so that has driven him to run for sheriff.
Rhodus, a full-time truck driver, said he’s no stranger to hard work, or to working around the clock.
“The deputies I hire are not going to sit up there in that office, they’re going to patrol these roads,” Rhodus said. “If it takes every bit of money to keep Lincoln County, then that’s what it’s for. I’m high-strung and I work hard. I work out here just about around the clock. I said ‘Why not work at home (in Lincoln County) and try to clean this county up?’”
The county’s illegal narcotics problem is also at the forefront of Rhodus’ priorities, he said.
“If I win this election, I am going to push all I can…(even) if it takes 24-hours a day,” he said. “I want these drugs out of Lincoln County. I want Lincoln County to be a proud county, and it can be made that way. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of effort.”
The drug epidemic is a disease that is killing a lot of innocent people, Rhodus said.
“We need LIncoln County cleaned up,” he said. “I believe in being honest. If I win this, I’m there for the people of Lincoln County. No favoritism, if your brother is breaking the law, or your kid is breaking the law, they’re getting arrested.”
Out of the number of full-time deputies, Rhodus said he wants to hire one person that nobody in the county knows, to help get drugs off of the streets.
“I want a man that nobody knows. I want him to find where this dope is, who is supplying this dope to these dealers. Then we’ll make the bust, with him not around,” he said.
Rhodus said he would also like to see an increase in school security across the district.
“My theory is, if we get $50,000 worth of drug money, hire a security guard to put in these schools,” he said. “Our schools are not protected good enough. I come through the school zone, there’s nobody watching the school zone, (with cars) doing 60 to 70 miles per hour. We’ve got kids on these buses.”
Spreading awareness and citing people for texting and driving is another thing Rhodus would like to focus on as sheriff, he said. The accidents caused by texting and driving are something Rhodus has seen a lot of during his time as a truck driver.
“I’ve seen too many accidents. I’ve been out on this road for 30-something years,” he said. “I want it to stop in Lincoln County.”
Rhodus said he doesn’t have a background in law enforcement but “neither did the current sheriff when he was elected.”
“You can’t hold that against me because Curt (Folger) cut hair before he became sheriff,” he said. “He’s probably done some good things, but he’s gotten too relaxed.” Folger was a well-known barber in Lincoln County before he was elected to sheriff.
For those voters who want to see change in Lincoln County, Rhodus said he has a message for them.
“If I win this, I’m there for the people of LIncoln County. I will give them 100 percent. All they have to do is give me the opportunity to do it,” he said. “I won’t only promise them they’ll see a change in Lincoln County, they can see it with their own eyes and watch the progress as it goes.”
Aside from working as a truck driver, Rhodus, 64, said he enjoys spending time with his family, going to car shows and gardening.