Updated Thu, Mar 27, 2014 1:37 pm
There’s a new sheriff in town. Well, almost.
The Athens County Commissioners have appointed Rodney Smith to the position of acting interim sheriff of Athens County during Pat Kelly’s suspension.
“I’m feeling excited,” said Smith,” I feel really good about this.”
Athens County Prosecuting Attorney Keller Blackburn said Smith will serve as acting interim sheriff until the Athens County Democratic Central Committee elects an interim replacement on April 8.
Pat Kelly confirmed Wednesday that he will not contest his suspension from office while a criminal case is pending against him.
Kelly is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 29 in Athens County Common Pleas Court on 23 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges.
Smith's appointing comes despite the fact that the Ohio Supreme Court has not officially suspended Kelly.
Athens County commissioner Lenny Eliason said the commissioners have been keeping a calendar on when the Supreme Court could make their decision and timed the appointment appropriately.
“We anticipate that [the suspension] will be sometime [Thursday], [Friday] or Monday. The time frame from the ongoing process was by Wednesday of next week so we anticipate it will be sooner,” said Eliason.
He said they made the decision now to ensure a smooth transition for the acting interim sheriff, but he hopes the Ohio Supreme Court refines the process in the future.
“We’ve been making some inquiries with our state association and are going to be approaching legislatures about refining this process so that there’s a little bit more communication to the political subdivision going through this,” said Eliason.
Smith served as a liutenant in the Athens County Sheriff’s office for 26 years before retiring in 2013.
Now he said he’s looking to make his temporary position more permanent.
“My long term goal is of course to get the appointment through the central committee and I do plan to run for sheriff in the next election,” said Smith. "One of the things I feel strongly about is laying the foundation of community policing. We would start that by holding meetings in each community throughout the county."
Eliason said he hopes the Athens County Democratic Central Committee takes their appointment into consideration and considers Smith when voting for the Athens County Sheriff interim replacement.
Smith's full statement is below: