A series of unfortunate events have occurred at the Clay County Sheriff's Department recently.
"For the second time within a month, the communications tower located in the southern part of the county near Center Point has been damaged. Someone keeps shooting at the warning signal light on top," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times. "The sheriff's department uses it as a back up tower, but it is used mainly by local emergency response personnel and fire departments for their communications."
Heaton said to hire a company to send someone to climb the tower and make the necessary repairs to the glass globe and the blinking light used to alert aircraft of the tower costs approximately $1,500 each time.
The tower is not the only unexpected cost to tap the budget in recent weeks.
On Thanksgiving Day, a small amount of damage occurred in the lobby of the Clay County Justice Center during an altercation with a suspect involved in an alleged domestic dispute and earlier this week one of the department's patrol cars was damaged during a deer/vehicle collision.
Heaton said the reserve deputy involved in the accident was not injured, but damage was done to the grille and front light of the car.
"(The vehicle) was scheduled to be decommissioned and replaced in 2009," Heaton said. "It is drivable, but I am not going to spend money to repair a car we were going to get rid of anyway."
The additional costs are not built into the tight budget set for the CCSD.
"It's the end of the year and there is money earmarked for routine costs, but not for when unexpected things," Heaton said. "We have insurance to cover things like this, but there are deductibles to pay."
Which is why Heaton said he plans on seeking restitution if the person shooting at the communications tower is caught and convicted.
"The money spent to repair the tower needs to be returned to the county," he said. "We're watching the area more closely and periodically checking the tower, but if anyone sees or hears anything strange happening around the tower, or the light being out on top, we would like them to contact the department."
To report information about this incident, or any criminal activity, contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 446-2535.