The new year means today is the first day of work for some newly elected officials, and for the first time in more than 25 years, Bell County gets a new sheriff.
Now he and others in the department are getting ready for the challenges ahead.
On his first day on the job as Bell County Sheriff, Eddy Lange is touring the jail.
"This is our isolation," explains an employee in the control room.
Lange and his new chief deputy and chief of financial services are getting a feel for the needs of the more than 150 employees who work at the jail.
"You want to work some more overtime?" Lang asks the worker.
"Actually, I was looking at my schedule now," she replies.
Right now jail employees are on 90 day rotating shifts, and turnover is high.
"Could you imagine how that disrupts your life? So starting probably next week, we'll be on permanent shifts," Lange said.
Outside of the jail, Chief Deputy Chuck Cox is looking forward to what the new year and new leadership brings.
"Two new units, emergency services unit, emergency management type unit, and a special crimes unit that we hope to have on board about early spring," said Cox, "The special crimes unit is going to entail several different aspects of criminal investigation and interdiction, and primarily, sex offender registration and compliance."
That's a top priority in a county with about 700 registered sex offenders.
Another item on the Sheriff's agenda is growing the fleet to meet the growing needs of the department.
"Dan Smith the last couple of years has tried to save money, because the county needed to save money, and so we didn't order enough patrol cars, now we are in kind of a little bind, but we're working on it," Lange said.
Chief of Financial Services Norman Hubbard said, "I will analyze all that, try to help the commissioners make a decision on which way is the best way to go to reduce the mileage on our fleet."
For now, Sheriff Lange says they each have their work cut out for them, as they learn how to better serve those who serve the rest of us.
"It's our job as administrators to ensure that they get the proper training, they get the proper equipment, and they get the proper tools to do their job the best that they can," said Lange.
Lange, Hubbard and Cox are among more than 90 public servants of all positions sworn in in Bell County since midnight January 1.
McLennan County got a new sheriff too.
Parnell McNamara took his oath as the midnight bells tolled, replacing Larry Lynch, who wore the badge for the past 12 years.
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