On Monday, the Lewis County Sheriff's Department arrested 11 people in three counties on drug charges.
Those arrested include Tracie Stalnaker, Sheena Gum, James H. Lipps, II, Randel Lynn McVay, Randel Adam McVay, Elijah P. Hull, Mark C. Hamrick, Kenneth J. Romel, Autumn Sandy, Kevin Jenkins and William Posey. All have been charged with possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, according to the sheriff's department.
State Police arrested the 12th and final person to be charged in connection with the Lewis County roundup Monday. Travis Martin was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance.
The bust was only the latest in the continued effort of Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy to combat the drug problem in Lewis County. This latest roundup even reached outside of Lewis to neighboring Harrison and Upshur counties. Gissy said the investigations have taken some time to complete, but the results are worth the wait.
"These investigations have been ongoing since probably the middle of January, so we've had to really take our time and be patient, and today's a good day. Anytime we can put a drug dealer behind bars, I feel it's a success," Gissy said.
With the dealers off the street, now it's the county's turn to deal with their incarceration, and that's an expense that's risen dramatically. From January to April 2012, the county paid $109,000 to the regional jail system. But over those same months this year, it's a different story. The county is paying 60 percent more this year, over $177,000. Lewis County Commissioner Agnes Queen said the county has prepared for that higher expense.
"We've always had more money than what the jail bill has been in the past. But coming into the new fiscal year starting July 1, we did add additional money into the line item," Queen said.
The county commission is also preparing to add to that budget if it's still needed as the next fiscal year goes on. And if Sheriff Gissy has anything to say about it, that might be necessary.
"Through cooperation and information-sharing, we've been successful. Do I feel that there's still a problem? Yes I do. Is it getting better, yes it is, but we're not going to stop, we're going to continue to eradicate drugs," Gissy said.