A Christmas program for poor children and families will go on as scheduled after an agreement between Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn and the County Commissioners cleared up how the money for the effort will be handled.
The agreement signed on Tuesday turns over more than $28,000 from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Benevolent fund to the Southwest Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, freeing up money that had been caught up in the ongoing squabble between the Commissioners and Dunn for the past three months.
The Sheriff’s Department Shop With a Deputy program shopping trip is scheduled for Dec. 15 at the Carthage Walmart.
According to the agreement which was negotiated by Assistant County Attorney Norman Rouse, Attorney Bill Fleischaker, representing Dunn, and the FOP, a total of $28,242.61 will be turned over to the FOP and spent only on a vote of the members of the Sheriff’s Office.
That group will accept donations for the Sheriff’s Office and provide the county with an accounting of how the funds are used.
Of that total, $23,347.85 will only be used for the Shop With a Deputy program, which provides $100 Walmart gift cards for selected children in the Jasper, Avilla and Sarcoxie school districts, and food baskets for needy families in rural Jasper County.
The other $4,894.76 will be unrestricted.
The fund became the subject of controversy this past summer when during a dispute over breast cancer coins, allegedly distributed by Sheriff Dunn as part of his campaign for reelection.
Rouse made the allegation after the county was charged more than $3,000 for the coins. Dunn said charging the county was a clerical error and he intended to pay for them from the Sheriff’s Benevolent Fund.
Rouse said he found out the fund was created using the county’s name and tax identification number, then in August, the commissioners had the account closed.
When the bank sent the check for the balance of the fund to Sheriff Dunn and required that the commissioner sign it to cash it, the money hung in limbo until this agreement was signed on Tuesday.
“My employees and I are extremely pleased with the results of this meeting today,” Dunn said after Tuesday’s meeting. “We’ve accomplished the same thing we could have three months ago. We’re good with it, it’s fair, it’s a fair thing for the Commission to do and we’re pleased.”
Dunn said he’s received other donations for the program, including $10,000 from an anonymous donor who has supported the Shop With a Deputy program for a number of years, and $1,000 from the FOP.
Those donations are over and above the $23,347 discussed in this meeting.
Page 2 of 2 - William Davis, a Joplin police officer and secretary/treasurer for the FOP, said this group handles the money for the Joplin Police Department’s Shop with a Cop program and the money discussed on Tuesday will be handled in the same way as the Joplin money.
Davis said the FOP will manage the money as long as the Sheriff’s Office employees want it too.
Sheriff’s Capt. Derek Walrod, an organizer of the Shop With a Deputy Program, said he has been a member of the local FOP for more than a decade and he was happy to have them step in and offer a solution to the stalemate that had developed since August, when the commissioners ordered the fund closed and Southwest Missouri Bank, where the account was located, sent the check to Sheriff Dunn.
“What they spelled out is exactly what we wanted to do with it,” Walrod said. “They do that for the Joplin Police Department Shop with a Cop and it was just a good alternative. They have the tax exempt status, so they are a not-for-profit, and it goes into a separate fund like the Joplin Police Department program. It was a win-win for everyone.”