Familiar faces in new positions
Sheriff Grills announces changes in the office

Wanda English Burnett - Editor
A phone call can change the course of the day at the Sheriff’s Office and that was evidenced as Sheriff Tom Grills talked with reporters last Friday and answered calls at the same time. On his fourth week of taking office, the sheriff noted that “things are going well, busy, but well.”

Some expected and unexpected personnel changes are taking place and the new sheriff takes it all in stride. “We had a deputy position open before I took office,” he noted, and that has been filled now with the hiring of Steve Sullivan. Also, another position was created when Lt. Lee Mathews announced his retirement after serving the community through the sheriff’s office for 26 years. Jail Commander Bob Curl was hired to take his place, leaving a vacancy in the jail that hasn’t yet been filled.
Curl has served as the Jail Commander for the past four years and has been employed with the office since 2000. He holds a degree in conservation law from Vincennes University and looks forward to attending the academy.

Steve Sullivan has been a reserve officer for the sheriff’s office for nearly nine years. While he didn’t complete the degree in conservation law, he did start the course several years ago. He told how he always wanted to be in law enforcement and can remember looking at a picture that hangs in the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department. The picture is of his great grandparents, who were murdered in that county in 1935. “I’ve just always wanted to do this,” he noted. Sheriff Grills praised Sullivan saying he has put in a lot of volunteer hours - more than most - and looks forward to him serving as a deputy.

Deputy Bill Dramann also gave notice of his retirement on Monday, January 22, and will be leaving the sheriff’s office to fill a full time position as the Sunman Town Marshal. He’s been in law enforcement for over 30 years and with the sheriff’s office since May of 1992, serving two terms as sheriff.

Keeping his campaign promise to bring a detective on board at the sheriff’s office, Grills has appointed Corky Houseworth to fill that position. Houseworth has been with the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office for the past eight years, first as a jailer and then he moved into a deputy spot in 1999. The new detective has a degree in science and conservation and has served four years in the US Air Force. He looks forward to pursuing training that will enhance his job.

Grills said it’s important to him to keep his word. “What I said I was going to do needs to match what I do,” he noted. Some goals he has in mind are creating a drug task force, building the reserve unit, and getting an emergency response team in place.

His goals include a more proactive approach and he knows they cost money. “But, it will make this office more functional and in return allow us to serve the community more efficiently,” he stated. He knows he is limited due to funding, but hopes he can realize some of his goals. The new sheriff plans to pursue grant avenues for some of the needed funding. “I will do everything I can to make it work,” he noted.

What has the new sheriff done in the first few weeks? Well, according to Grills he’s been busy taking care of housekeeping issues. He says with all things considered the transition went pretty smoothly and while he focused a lot of energy on problems at the jail he says the number one problem is discipline. He noted that the jailers are back in control and he personally walks through the jail at least once or twice a week to make sure things are running smoothly. He takes a no-nonsense approach telling inmates, “If you don’t like me or my jail, then I’ve done my job.”

Grills describes himself as a “working” sheriff and noted he has spent a lot of time cleaning the office, intake area and garage. “We’ve been restructuring and getting things cleaned up,” he stated.
“I go home happy,” he concluded, adding being the sheriff is “better than what I thought it might be.”
David Pippin will serve as the Chief Deputy for the office and Randy Holt and Marvin Smith are squad sergeants.

While the sheriff is busy working on things like hiring another deputy and getting more cars for the reserve program, he says all-in-all things are going well and he looks forward to serving the community as the Ripley County Sheriff.




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