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Title: Oral History Interview with John Ledford, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0251. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Ledford, John, interviewee
Interview conducted by Amberg, Rob
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 172 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-09-30, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with John Ledford, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0251. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0251)
Author: Rob Amberg
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with John Ledford, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0251. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0251)
Author: John Ledford
Description: 171 Mb
Description: 52 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 3, 2001, by Rob Amberg; recorded in Marshall, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with John Ledford, January 3, 2001.
Interview K-0251. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Ledford, John, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOHN LEDFORD, interviewee
    BRENDA, interviewee
    ROB AMBERG, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ROB AMBERG:
Marshall, North Carolina and it is January 3rd, 2001 about a little bit before ten o'clock. John, could you just introduce yourself? I want to make sure that we're picking you up, and tell me who you are, your age, and all those kinds of things.
JOHN LEDFORD:
My full name is Chauncey, C-H-A-U-N-C-E-Y John Ledford. I am the sheriff of Madison County. I was born July 8, 1965, thirty-five years of age.
ROB AMBERG:
Great. John, what part of the county were you born? Oh, John you were born in '65. What part of the county were you raised in and where?
JOHN LEDFORD:
I was raised in the Forks of Ivy community of Madison County, which is a small community that sits south of Mars Hill between the Madison-Buncombe County line and Mars Hill. I'm almost probably a mile from northern Buncombe County.
ROB AMBERG:
What did your father do? What did your parents do? And what was your family background in county?
JOHN LEDFORD:
We live on property that my Grandmother Ledford who was a neighbor of ours had deeded off to my father upon his retirement from the US Navy. He at sixteen years of age volunteered to go fight in World War II and left and made a career of it and got out early '60s and came back. My mother is from the Spring Creek section of Madison County, and she just has been retired a few years. She taught school in Madison County for forty years. I have a twin brother, and actually the interesting thing is my brother and I are adopted children.
ROB AMBERG:
Huh.

Page 2
JOHN LEDFORD:
They adopted us when we were a little less than two years of age. So all my life has been spent up to about the last two years except for what time I worked with other law enforcement agencies in the Forks of Ivy community of Madison County.
ROB AMBERG:
Were you born in this community? Were your birth parents?
JOHN LEDFORD:
From what I know we were born in Madison County. I have never researched. I never looked into that and the only parents I've ever known were James and Nina Ledford.
ROB AMBERG:
Wow. That's something. That's a good sign that you were comfortable with that.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Very comfortable with that. I have no desire. They were great parents and are great parents.
ROB AMBERG:
Now did your parents have other children too?
JOHN LEDFORD:
I have one sister Laura who was born in 1968. She is a little younger than us. She's now married and lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
ROB AMBERG:
So when your dad then retired out of the Navy, he was still relatively young at that point—
JOHN LEDFORD:
He was.
ROB AMBERG:
Probably forty or something.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Right. When he came out of the Navy, his brothers owned a service station and a grocery store called the L and M Supermarket. He worked there for a brief period of time, and then my grandmother deeded him property and he went up the road and actually opened up a small service station probably less than half a mile away from his brother's service station and went into business against him. I don't know if you'd say

Page 3
against him, but he went into that business as well. He ran that business from sixty, probably '65 to—. He's retired now, but he still works, very active at seventy-five years of age. So he's been in that another thirty-five years.
ROB AMBERG:
Now he was a, there was a time when he was in business with Don Anderson. Is that right?
JOHN LEDFORD:
He was. Sometime around 1970, early '70s, my father opened a second business. He kept his original service station but went up and opened a second business on Highway 19, which was also a service station/garage/auto parts store. He went into that business with Doctor Don Anderson who was a professor he had met from Mars Hill College who's always been a life long friend of my father's. They were very close.
ROB AMBERG:
Where was that original store down here that he opened?
JOHN LEDFORD:
The original store was right beside my mother and father's house. It's there in the Forks of Ivy section. There were three stores. At that time that was the old Mars Hill Highway. See there was only a two-lane road that came from Asheville to Mars Hill and the L and M Supermarket, that was Ledford and Marsh sat on the left. Then you came up to my father's place which was Ledford's gas station, which sat on the right and then directly above that—all of these were in eyesight of each other—was Thurmond Briggs who ran another Exxon Station just above it. That's where Austin Heating and Cooling is now if you're familiar with that. That was all on the main road. So everything, it was a busy place early in the morning. I can remember when we would go to school, all three parking lots would be full of people. That's, you could see both directions from our house. It was interesting thing.
ROB AMBERG:
Now did your family do any farming? Did your father farm at all?

Page 4
JOHN LEDFORD:
They did growing up. That's originally, my father's father passed away when he was about three years of age. My grandmother raised seven children. They came through the Depression in a small probably one, two, three, four-room house, which still stands there in Forks of Ivy. At sixteen my father decided he was going to, the War broke out. World War II broke out, and he went to Detroit, Michigan and got my aunt who had married and moved there—basically with a parent's permission somehow they can sign you into the military early—so he got her to sign, I guess my grandmother's name, and he went in to join the Navy to fight in World War II and ended up making a career out of it.
ROB AMBERG:
So when he got back then, he basically went into business.
JOHN LEDFORD:
He did.
ROB AMBERG:
He really didn't farm or anything.
JOHN LEDFORD:
He did not. By that time he came back all. Like I said, my father was probably late thirties. He was the second youngest. All of those had grown up and had gone into business. They had opened up these type of merchant type trade is what they all had gone into. That's what he went in to. He came in and originally worked for his brothers and then opened his own business.
ROB AMBERG:
What are your earliest memories of those kind of times, that period you would've been real, real young obviously? But where did you go to school?
JOHN LEDFORD:
I went to Mars Hill. My mother was a teacher there.
ROB AMBERG:
At the elementary?
JOHN LEDFORD:
At the elementary there. The things I remember most about those businesses then is that I could remember those type business as opposed to these bigger businesses

Page 5
like Ingles and Advance Auto Parts and whatever may be. We were dealing grocery stores and parts stores and gas stations were the community hangouts. That's something that I remember because I can remember every Sunday morning a lot of people, a lot of the men in the community, their wives went to church and they came down. Dad had a pot of coffee, and they would be at the store. It was an amazing thing because it was a lot of the community leaders and all. I can remember being there, and I grew up at that time by 1970, my father had entered politics. There were a lot of high-powered political meetings took place over a pot of coffee at a service station. That was just the way it was. It was very interesting because myself and my brother always worked in those businesses at a young age. We had the responsibilities. We came home from school and ran the cash register or swept and cleaned the bathrooms or stocked oil on shelves. That was what, the way we were raised to work. My father had and has a very strong work ethic. He worked for many years I would say probably in excess of thirty years, he worked seven days a week. Usually opened up around six and closed at six, so about seven days a week and twelve hours a day. That was his hobby. That was his whole life evolved around that. Every one of us even including my younger sister had responsibilities in those businesses that we had to work. Now when my guys here at the sheriff department get to complaining about overtime or may—I didn't know what overtime was. I don't think anything about a fifty or sixty-hour workweek. That's just what you do. It's just part of it. I think there's nothing wrong with that. That's probably one of the better things that I got out of my early childhood is having to work.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you ever, was there ever any thought on your part of kind of going into your dad's business, taking that over? As he retired or—

Page 6
JOHN LEDFORD:
Well, it's interesting. I've always been interested in law enforcement. When I graduated from high school, my father—
ROB AMBERG:
Was that Madison High?
JOHN LEDFORD:
Madison High School, 1983, my father and my twin brother he gave myself and my twin brother a good graduation present. He let us go down to Myrtle Beach, and we spent a week there, and he paid for all that. When we came back he told us, 'You can go Monday and get yourself lined up to go to college, or you can go to work.' But he said, 'You're going to do one of the other.' He said, 'You're not going to stay here at the house and not work.' That was my father, 'Or you can go in the military.' So my brother went to Mars Hill College. I went to talk to dad about whether I was going to go to college. Dad said, 'What would you go for?' I said, 'Well I guess business.' He at that time we owned three service stations. He said, 'Well, if you're going to go into business, here's the keys. Go over to the one in Mars Hill and go to work.' He said, 'You can run that one. And we'll run it together.' That's really what I did. Now my brother came out and went one semester to Mars Hill College, and then he and my best friend joined the US Army, and they left for two years. When he returned back, I went down to the North Carolina Highway Patrol Academy. This was 1987 by then. I stayed about four weeks and just didn't really ever click. That just was not what, I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement, but I just really wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I knew that wasn't it. So came back and continued to work in my father's business until 1990. I was fortunate to be offered a position with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department. That's how I got my start in law enforcement.

Page 7
ROB AMBERG:
You were talking earlier about the idea of the store being a hangout and places where people congregated. Was that also a school bus stop kind of right there? Were kids picked up right in that area?
JOHN LEDFORD:
Not so much at our store. It was interesting because my mother taught school. So I always had to be at school thirty minutes early and had to stay about thirty minutes late. There were a whole group of us, my next door neighbor who was about four years older than me. My closest friend growing up, his mother was also a schoolteacher. So we all, there were a number of us. It was amazing how many of us actually school teachers had children that were a very tight knit bunch about the same age and all stayed after school together. Then really from the time I was probably old enough to push a broom and stuff, my mother would take us over to my father's store or over to the store [unclear] that Dr. Anderson owned. By then we were, the store at the house had closed down or we had rented it out. It was also a paint store. He sold paint, Glidden Paint. We would go over to the Highway 19 store, and we had responsibilities. It was a pretty good-sized store, still is a pretty good-sized store for this community. There was a lot to do putting up stock and cleaning and sweeping. So we had plenty of chores to do, cleaning out the garages, and we grew up in those businesses. It was always kind of funny because later on in life when I ran for office, I knew so many people because all these people traded at the store. They grew up and they'd say, 'Well those boys are hard working boys, and they're fine young men.' When I would go in their homes and say I'm going to run for sheriff and I want your vote.' They'd say, 'Oh yes. I've known your father for thirty-five years and traded with him. I can remember you boys since you were—'

Page 8
ROB AMBERG:
I watched you grow up.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Yeah. I got one of the biggest votes that's probably ever been gotten in Beech Glen in my home community box there. The year I ran, I ran it by just the man I had run against had never lost the box, and not only did I beat him in that box but beat him by over two hundred and fifty votes. So it's just, that's a lot. It was a complete swing in the Beech Glen box that year.
ROB AMBERG:
How did you as a child, what did you do for like entertainment? I know in a sense working at the store could function as both work and the camaraderie of the place could be entertainment. But what other kinds of things did you do as a boy growing up kind of in the county that were—?
JOHN LEDFORD:
Myself, my brother were very close and are very close. But we had completely different tastes. When we got into high school really, my father told us, 'You can work and I will pay you a salary, or you can play athletics and I will give you an allowance.' It didn't take long to figure that I'd rather have a new car as playing basketball. The monies, financially it was just better off for me to have a job, and I was lucky to have a job. So we worked. Many of my hobbies revolved around just typical stuff. We hunted. We fished, backpacked, did a lot of hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, anything that this area had to offer. I was an avid hunter, I guess was one of the biggest things. My closest friend at that time who is still somebody that I consider a very close friend was about four years older than us. He had a car. So when I was like in the—he had his license at sixteen and I was only twelve. My parents trusted him immensely because his mother was a schoolteacher. We skated. We were still probably, we skated. That was a big thing, roller skating, something we did very well at.

Page 9
ROB AMBERG:
Did you go into Weaverville?
JOHN LEDFORD:
We did. Carol Powers who is owner of Skateland or Skateland USA was a good friend of mine. The interesting thing about Carol was we had a natural ability to skate. It came out to the point where we were probably some of the best. We floor guarded and skated on speed teams. We probably were as good a skaters that were anywhere around. At that time we would go and compete different places and probably better than ninety percent of them. That's something that I still can go every now and then and do. At that time, now it's probably progressed. We could do things at that time that people I thought were very good skaters that were older than me could not do. I'm sure that's continued to evolve because the skates get faster and people get more athletic. But that was a big part of us growing up. We did all those things, very active.
ROB AMBERG:
It sounds like doing a lot of walking, hiking, hunting. So you spent a lot of time in the woods it sounds like.
JOHN LEDFORD:
We did. About every evening. My father bought me my first shotgun when I was in the eighth grade. It was a little Four-ten. I used to love to squirrel hunt, and then of course we grouse hunted. I never was really into big game hunting, but we did a lot of bird hunting, a lot of rabbit hunting. We had bird dogs. We had beagles for rabbits. We, I enjoyed that type. I still would enjoy it if I had the time to do it.
ROB AMBERG:
So it sounds like, just this whole notion of place was very ingrained in you.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It was.
ROB AMBERG:
That was, sounds like that was a big part. What, would you hunt in the moutains around your home, around Forks of Ivy?
JOHN LEDFORD:
We did.

Page 10
ROB AMBERG:
One thing I see right now quite often is you see more and more posted signs—
JOHN LEDFORD:
You do.
ROB AMBERG:
Coming up in the county whereas when I first moved here that was just not something you ever saw.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Most of your squirrel hunting and stuff you would drive or you could just walk. You'd take off in the woods and just walk and hunt squirrels because like you said a lot of farm land and still a lot of wooded area there around Forks of Ivy. We would go to Rich Mountain Mills down in the lower end of the county here to bird hunt. We hunted in Barnardsville, did a lot of hunting. You could bird hunt on and around the Coleman boundary there. We would rock climb in the Coleman Boundary. That's where we learned to rock climb out there. We'd go from there to Looking Glass Falls and places like that. We backpacked into the Smoky Mountains, Slick Rock Creek way out in toward I guess it's Tapico, I'm trying to think. We were very active and doing that kind of thing. Backpacking was something for us that was kind of—. It got into a very big way because [when] we started out we had just probably very poor equipment and that evolved into something. Diamond Brand Camping Center out in Naples knew us very well. We, no matter if we had one good sleeping bag. As soon as we had enough money, we'd buy a better one and then backpacks and stuff. That was, our parents, they trusted us. My brother and I had a very good relationship with our parents. They trusted us immensely. I would come in on Friday and be thirteen years old and say myself and my brother maybe and Glen Norville are going to go somewhere and we'll be back Sunday. They would say, 'Well you be careful but go.' They [unclear] because I think they

Page 11
knew that they raised us to be very independent but to use common sense. My father gave me those speeches, there are two kinds of people, leaders and followers. You need to be a leader not a follower and that type thing. I think he was around us enough to see that we were pretty squared away type kids. He trusted us, and we turned out very well.
ROB AMBERG:
That's a real, that's almost a mountain attitude I think in terms I think of raising kids. To give kids guidelines and kind of boundaries but at the same time give them lots of freedom within those boundaries.
JOHN LEDFORD:
My father was a very interesting man. He's been much more of an influence on my life than he would ever know. He would tell us, I would go to my father and ask him for something, and he would say, 'Well, no you can't have that.' I would get upset about it or feel like somehow I had been cheated. My dad would tell me, 'When I was your age—which at that time would've been fourteen or fifteen years old—we were picking fruit in Florida for ten cents an hour, ten cents a day or whatever it may have been. Nobody owes you anything. You have to get out and get it on your own.' He was always, I knew that I could have anything I wanted if I was willing to work for it. He was not going to per se, he gave us anything we needed, but if we wanted it he afforded us— his way of doing it was giving us the opportunity to work to get it. We could put the hours in to get it. He made the work available. That's why we've never been afraid of work whether it's in law enforcement or any job I've ever had. I've never been the guy that once I got into law enforcement. If we work a six o'clock shift at night until three o' clock in the morning, I checked on at about four thirty and drive to the office and knock out thirty minutes of paper work. Then when six o 'clock came I had most of my stuff squared away and ready to go to work. I worked with a whole lot of agents who at six

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o'clock would check on the radio at five fifty-five and then have to go get gas and then they'd have to stop. By the time they got to the office it was almost seven o'clock and they hadn't done anything. So it was up in the evening before they were ready to go out and do stuff. I got more done because I tried to be more organized. The same about going home. At three o'clock and we were out working and there was still work to be done, I stayed out. I wasn't one of those fellows that would look at my watch and say at twenty minutes say I've got to be home at three o'clock and just leave in the middle of something to go home. I just, it didn't really make any difference to me whether I got paid for it or not. That's just the way, once you get used to that, that's just the way you are.
ROB AMBERG:
That's a real, I think that's an attitude or a value that comes from being self-employed because you have your own business, you work until the work gets done. You don't punch a clock. You just work until you get everything that needs to be done, done. That's a real difference.
JOHN LEDFORD:
My father used to always say that if you're working, you were making money, should be making money. And if you were off you were probably spending money. So which are you better off? So that was his philosophy. So he, nobody in the Ledfords, even my sister as I say, we all knew that that was part of the bargain. That was part of the package. You had to work. You were always compensated for working in many other ways, not just financial. I could go to my father for anything. He just, he was there for us. My mother as well. That kind of made us, that got me to where I am today because I just believe, when I set in to run for sheriff, my plan was—I took a leave of absence in November from the state, came back and went to work for my father and brother again in

Page 13
the business. That entire year, they made available to me at two o'clock in the afternoon and I would get out and get in the car and go to ten o'clock at night just visiting people, stopping by houses, shaking hands, seeing people I hadn't seen. I went in, if I would go to somebody who they would tell me you need to go see this man in Spring Creek. I would say can you take me to some people because if he told me he was going to support me, then I wanted him to take me around to see some folks. I think that's how I won. I really believe that. I got out and worked. If there was a gathering to be at and an opportunity to speak and be seen or just go. The only thing I didn't do, I tried to shy away from was funeral homes. For years in Madison County a lot of campaigning was done at funeral homes and I just, somehow that didn't sit with me. I don't know exactly why.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah, that's almost crossing the line. It's real close.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It's an interesting thing because since I've been sheriff, I've had a lot of people say, 'Well such and such a person has died and you need to go to funeral home.' And I'll go in like thirty minutes early and sign the log and they'll say, 'Well you should've stayed. The family would've liked to had you there.' And they might have. But just for, you feel like you ought to be there for the family because they were friends of yours, but at the same time you feel like you're either a distraction or you feel like people are going to take it the wrong way if you are there. So I just, I sign the log and just try to stay away from that type of thing. That's another way this county is changing. I don't remember ever there being an election in the fall of the year. There was, but if you've been here since '70, mid-seventies you know there never was a Republican elected to anything in this county in my lifetime until '86 when Dedrick Brown beat E.Y.

Page 14
[Elymas Yates Ponder, former sheriff]. Yeah, he was the first. You had your primary. You had your shoot out in the primary, and then it was over because fall of the year you knew you were going to be elected.
ROB AMBERG:
That's true. The style of campaigning that you just described to me is very old style.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Very much so.
ROB AMBERG:
Very much kind of avoiding emails and phones and computers and things like that and really getting out and talking to people face to face often times in their homes or in the community stores, and that to me is a real, it's kind of old tradition.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Now, I had to do the other too now. I had mail outs. We put up road signs or yard signs and signs and did mail outs as well. It was just, of course the bad thing about it was that some time around 1994 when my father lost, after five times, negative campaigning hit Madison County. When I ran in '98, it was really negative. I'll tell you that's the part I hate the least [most]. I learned early on from being out here by watching the expression on people's faces if somebody brought up my opponent and would open the door for me to make a negative comment if I let my emotions go and made that negative comment, you could tell by the look on their face that they didn't like that. They were going to see what kind of person I was. If I made a comment, 'Well, I guess he's a pretty nice person but I think I can do a better job,' I think I would get much farther with that. I really believe that. I don't think it's because the person is of negative or not negative but opposite political party of myself. I didn't agree with a lot of the things he did and I thought I could do them better. I thought I would work harder at it because I knew what type person I am. I knew once I got here that I could just about will

Page 15
something to happen just because I work hard. I believe if I work hard, then my deputies work hard because then they know what to expect.
ROB AMBERG:
You're setting the example.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure. Like we had a situation here the other night at one o'clock in the morning they called me. The newspaper guy came across the street. He said that he showed up on the situation and he said that, 'I was laying in bed at one o'clock and heard you on the radio.' I've got an unusual voice and I knew if the sheriff was out at one o'clock that something big was getting ready to happen. He came out. The newspaper guy came out. But that's the way I've always been. I wouldn't ask any person I have here to do anything. Since I've been sheriff here, I have jailed. I have worked communications. I have transported prisoners. I have written citations. I have called court. The only thing I haven't done is taken a mental commitment. I haven't done that, but I did enough of those as a deputy in Buncombe County. I just, if it has to be done, I don't think I am above doing it.
ROB AMBERG:
My sense is that you're going to run again. When it comes four years comes or two years, do you sense that the way you campaigned in '98, '97, '98, do you sense that there's going to be a change as—. For example we've got so many new people in this county now who are going to respond differently to you driving up on their place to visit and that kind of thing?
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure.
ROB AMBERG:
How does then this change in the demographics, kind of change the way a, not just a sheriff, but any kind of politician kind of works among the people.

Page 16
JOHN LEDFORD:
I believe that the only way you can be beat if you run again if the people have to vote you out. So basically you have been fired. That's my belief now. Sheriff is an unusual position. I have been running for office since the day I have been elected. When I say that is, one thing that I became very much aware of once you get elected and that's even more. I've been watching this presidential thing, and I really hope that they'll do what I have tried to do, and I have said that I am everybody's sheriff in this county. I have done, I have never asked a person who has come up those steps or stopped me in the street or anything their politics. In fact I have probably tried harder to help some of the opposite party even whether I believe they would support me or not just simply because I didn't want them to say I was a bad person or couldn't talk to me. I have maintained an open door policy. And another thing from my training with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department and my training with the state is I was fortunate to have received a number of schools with dealing with the media. I'm not afraid of the press. Always in Madison County before the sheriff here has been the type of man that has told the press nothing, starved them out. Don't make a comment, God they'll hang you. I don't believe that. I believe that you have to work with the media. They have a job to do. As long as they respect you and you respect them and you have a kind of working relationship there that you know the boundaries of, that you'll be fine. So I think that my next campaign and the biggest thing in this county is name recognition too. I really believe that. I think that was the Ledford name may have been known, but it was known for James Ledford not John Ledford. If you like John Ledford or you don't like John Ledford, you know who he is now and I can accept that. Another thing is you have to think about is that being sheriff of this county is that the more that you do at this job, the more stands you

Page 17
take, the more people you arrest, you're going to make a few people mad. There's no way around it. So you've got to hope that by doing your job, people will say, 'Well good or bad he did his job. He was fair about it.' You've got to hope that there are people. It used to be that the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, the Republicans voted Republican and the Democrats voted Democrat, and Democrats hold about a two to one registration advantage that the Democrats can elect you. That's not the case anymore. I think people now split tickets. I think that they vote more for the man not the parties. The party's not the machine that maybe it once was. It's still strong, but it's not the machine that it once was, and there's the unaffiliated, and I think those are your educated voters. So if you look around my office, you can see all these certificates. I've probably got a hundred more of those. I am told that I am the only sheriff that still goes to the Justice Academy at Salemburg and takes classes. I take them right along with the other deputies. I never tell them who I am. If the instructor doesn't say a word, they don't know who I am. Unless they know me, they don't know that I'm a sheriff from Madison County. So I still am in the learning process. I'm still trying to increase my knowledge. I think that all of that will play into this next election because I think the educated voter is going to say, 'Well, he's worked pretty hard and he's got this and he's got that. We know he'll work, and we know he's got the education. So I think he's the best choice for the job.'
ROB AMBERG:
Has the Ledford name, do you sense that that also has liabilities, maybe among—
JOHN LEDFORD:
It does.

Page 18
ROB AMBERG:
Especially maybe among newcomers who would come in and say, 'God Madison County politics. I've been hearing about this stuff for years. It's just a machine, and it's run by these good old boys and here's another one running for sheriff. Just passing the thing down the line.'
JOHN LEDFORD:
That's exactly what they [say]. And in fact if you really remember the ads they ran, they are what upset me the most about the last campaign I went through. They never really attacked me; they attacked my father. The whole time they kept trying to say my father would be sheriff. Anybody that knew me knew that would not be the case and knew my father that wouldn't be the case. Then when we had the forum up at the high school, the sheriff then again attacked my father, and attacked Dr. Anderson. They really were on Don. They were trying to claim, some of their ads said, 'Who will really be running the sheriff's department.' My father came down the first day, wanted to look at this jail, stuck his hand in his pocket and handed me five hundred dollars and said, 'This jail is pink and nobody deserves to have a pink jail. Go have it painted and I'm going to pay to have your jail painted.' That's about it. That's the last time he's been down here. But I'd be the first to say I'd be a fool if I didn't draw any resource, any resource and if you don't think like Don Anderson or James Ledford who especially Dad and Don who have been active both in the school system and in, ran this county for a number of years. If I didn't draw upon their knowledge of how to get things done, I would be foolish and I would not be doing. People kept trying to figure out how I came and how I had all these grants. We got almost a million dollars worth of grants now since about a year and half. We're probably somewhere between five hundred thousand and eight hundred thousand, but I'm still writing grants. I write grants myself and Don Anderson writes grants.

Page 19
We're getting ready to write two more, and I don't know of anybody else that's written a grant for anything. But the money is out there. You've just got to be willing to go and get it. If I've got an asset like Don Anderson and James Ledford who either has a contact once the grant is written I can make a phone call to and I can say, 'Hey this grant is coming up and we need this money.' Or Don Anderson has the ability to knock a grant out in about thirty minute it seems like. He can write a grant out quicker than anybody I've ever met. Then I don't care. If they want to get on me for that, I'll take that heat because the good thing about being sheriff in this county is I am guessing, but I know I am in the lowest twenty-five of the hundred paid sheriffs in the of North Carolina. There are a hundred sheriffs in North Carolina now. Sheriff Orr in Transylvania County tells me he's the bottom twenty-five and makes forty almost fifty thousand dollars a year. I know that I make thirty-one nine, thirty-two thousand, something like that. That was less money than an ALE agent makes. It is less than a state highway patrol cadet with no experience in the basics of road makes. It's about, most detectives in Buncombe County Sheriff's Department where I worked before if I was just a detective and worked forty hours a week would make that. I work about sixty hours a week, some weeks as high as eighty or more. There was one week here we figured up I had made two dollars and sixteen cents an hour. Because we'd been down here, I had slept down here. Basically the first six or eight months I was in office, I slept down here. I was here, and I would go home for four or five hours and come back, and that was seven days a week like that. But you've got to love it because every time we get a new car or every time we get something new in dispatch or every time the jail inspector comes up and looks at me and says, 'You've done all you can do with this building but for the first time in history, it

Page 20
meets code and passes.' Those are things that maybe the public will never know but I know. That's— R:A: And those things are happening because of some of this grant money.
JOHN LEDFORD:
They are. They are. When I came in, I had four deputies, which was fine maybe in 1980, but Broughton Hospital is what two hours away. So if we pick up a mental commitment at six o'clock when he checked on duty, he's going to be tied up in Asheville until about eight or nine, and he had to take him to Broughton, the whole shift was gone. So it meant, who's covering the county?
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
So I stayed out. There was nothing for me to work all day down here on the day shift. My office was downstairs then and I would set back there and lay my head on my desk, and I would tell the dispatcher if something happens and you need to call, call me. I will take the call. I would go out or my chief deputy would stay out. So very early on, I knew I had to get more deputies. I knew the county wasn't going to pay for them. So I got almost three hundred dollars from COPS, Community Oriented Policing Grant that Clinton had come up with and put a hundred thousand cops on the street.
ROB AMBERG:
I remember.
JOHN LEDFORD:
We got four. I've got in now to get, I have in for school resource officers, and I want to see us get the first school resource officer. I convinced the Board of Education, which I can't take all the credit for. I'm glad they had foresight in that to not only get one for the high school but let's move one into the middle school too because every other county has it. I don't think the citizens of Madison County deserve any less than anybody five miles down the road has got just because they've got a bigger county.

Page 21
That's something. I met with Roy Cooper who is now the Attorney General, but he was a candidate then. I said, 'You know instead of sending this money to hire more SBI agents and increase the highway patrol, the legislature should look at some type of funding for local departments that are maybe less than twenty thousand people or have a geographic area of so much. They ought to assign us to make it mandated you have one deputy for so many miles or so many thousand people because that's the only way certain counties are ever going to ever bring them in line.' I may not be able to pay what Buncombe County makes, but every deputy here ought to at least have access to the same type of equipment they have. It's not fair that a crime will be served in one county because they have a bigger tax base and might go unsolved here. So that's something I'm kind of touchy about, and we've worked very hard. That's the main thing I have worked hardest on with a lot of these grants is equipment. We've bought eight cars for eight thousand dollars. What we've done is every year I've gotten state even when I was told they had no money to give me, I got forty thousand dollars out of them to buy cars. Now it may have been used highway patrol vehicles, but we got that. That was during all the money going east for the flood. Somebody made a comment that dispatch down here at the jail had never [been] on the internet one night. We'd never done anything to update. I went within the next couple of weeks and caught Bill Stanley and Tom Sobol who were the commission of Buncombe County, they had built moved into a big building there and the sheriff's department. It's ultramodern but I knew they had dispatch equipment at the Old Biltmore School from when I was a deputy that was still more modern than anything we had. I talked them into donating twenty thousand dollars of console equipment to us and had, got money to put it in. Oh I'm sorry.

Page 22
ROB AMBERG:
That's okay.
JOHN LEDFORD:
We just got a grant for twenty thousand dollars here for voice recording, logging equipment that records all radio transmissions and all telephone conversations. When I came into office, the first six thousand dollars we got—a private citizen donated six thousand dollars to us—and I used that to buy all new uniforms, leather gear. My deputies didn't have anything. We got that because me and the chief deputy spent three days and nights out here looking for three stolen four wheelers that had a five thousand dollar reward out for them, not because we thought we'd get the reward. That was just the biggest case we got information we could solve in the first week. The man was so appreciative that he just took us out up there and said I want to know what it's going to cost to get what you need and took us to Office Depot and bought us fax machines and all that stuff and then turned around and wrote us a check and equipped all our men.
ROB AMBERG:
That's great. That's a real. Just that whole idea of getting grant money, going out seeking donations kind of thing is kind of a new idea, kind of a new approach certainly for the Madison County sheriff's department I think. I never recall ever hearing E.Y. doing anything like that or Jed Ricker or those kinds of things. Just never, so this is a very modern kind of way of looking at things it seems to me.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It is and it's funny because like when I came in, the deputies had some old brown uniforms, and they most of them were nylon leather gear or nylon equipment. I can always remember being in rookie school in the 1990 and the firearms instructor telling us that nylon gear was a death trap. You need good leather gear. We went out and were able to buy all this stuff off of private donations, and then I got a grant for bulletproof vests. All of my deputies have bullet proof vests, and I got a grant and

Page 23
bought them all ultra-modern firearms. We, some guys were carrying .38s. Some guys were carrying .357s. Some had 9mms. It was a nightmare. We'd go out there to qualify, and I had to order the ammo because the state mandates that you're all going to use specific kinds of ammo, and I had to order a box of this and a box of that. It was just the most awful thing you've ever gotten into. It would take two days for Brenda and the chief deputy to get all this done. I remember watching something on the History Channel about J. Edgar Hoover. I never will forget it. It was interesting. One of the first things he did when they formed the FBI and gave them arrest powers and they got guntoting ability all was he uniformed everything, and that's what you really want. When I came in, I had a brown patrol car and a blue patrol car and a white patrol car. Some had bar lights and some had star. Some didn't have anything. I said, 'Unless it's changed in the last eleven years, the most successful or productive type of patrol is routine random patrol in marked cars.' There have been a number of studies on that. So I marked every vehicle we had but mine and the chief deputies. There are no unmarked cars. We run now what's called semi-marked cars, which don't have the bar light, but that's because of economics. I can buy a strobe light that mounts inside for two hundred dollars or a bar light that costs a thousand. I can buy five of those that sit, but they're still marked. They have stars on the doors. You see that car coming. People say, 'Lord sheriff, we see your cars everywhere now. What have you done. Have you got that many deputies.' No, I just simply marked them and put them all in uniforms. The prior sheriff let them wear blue jeans and shirts, and they drove their patrol cars on dates and stuff like that. I cut out all that, and we put a policy procedure manual in, and I hold them accountable. I've got deputies, I hate to say this but I have deputies who won't come and talk to me. They'll send somebody up here

Page 24
to talk to me because they say, 'He intimidates me.' If they, if they ask me a question, I'm going to answer it. It may not be the answer they want. They're not going come up and shuck and jive with me and BS around to get what they want. They know they're going to have to be able to justify what they ask for. We've tried to take as much good old boy out of this department as you can and still be in Madison County.
ROB AMBERG:
When did you, you were growing up when—I taught at the college from '75 to '77 and during that time I was teaching there, [Highway] 19 and [Highway] 23 was open from two lanes to four lanes, that's when that was widened. I'm curious about before you were even involved in any of this kind of stuff when you recognized that this place was really changing and then—well, let's go with that first and then I'll follow up with that with another question.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Well, I probably—
ROB AMBERG:
This is really changing gears.
JOHN LEDFORD:
I probably recognized it about 1990 because my whole world revolved around Madison County. We would go to Atlanta to watch a ball game, or my brother was in DC for two years and we would drive up and visit. That never hit home and even Asheville never hit home, but in 1990 I left my father's employment and became a road deputy with Buncombe County. That's where I met my chief deputy Randall Bradford. Everybody if you're that type of macho guy, a lot of people want to carry guns and badge and handcuffs and go out here and fight crime, but I'm going to tell you something. When you're stuck out here on the north end of the county, Buncombe County and you're the only deputy working and you've got a shots fired call. There's idiots shooting at each other. You're going up there to break that up and you've got a pistol and they've got

Page 25
high powered rifles and this—I guess I say this, what I'm leading up to is you know I began to realize, "Hey Madison County is a pretty good place to live. We didn't have that type stuff." We didn't have—you probably had need for a better sheriff's department at that time, but I'm just telling the volume of calls and the type of calls, I realized very quickly how the rest of the world lived. In 1993 I joined the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division and we worked sixteen [unclear] and I worked all over North Carolina. I realized very quickly what Madison County was getting ready to find out. I knew what we had, and I knew what it was fifteen or twenty miles here to the south. I realized what was going to overtake us. Very quickly then I can remember I moved to Buncombe County, and I wanted to come back so badly to Madison County. I just, I can remember my father at night in the late '60s and early '70s cars breaking down because that was still the main road. If it were bad weather or something because there were no hotels in Madison County, my father would bring them home and let them sleep in a spare bedroom in our house. People traveling and didn't know them from Adam. You couldn't do that now. Now you've got people breaking down, and they go over in Haywood County and killed five family members.
ROB AMBERG:
That's right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
That's how time has changed. The only thing I think or one of the main things but probably the biggest fear I have in my whole world is that I get elected to a second term as sheriff and 19-23 [N.C.]becomes I-81 or I-26 whatever it is because there's going to be a period of time. Everybody's talking about sign ordinances. They're talking about construction boom. But all that's got to come before tax base increases to get increased funding for the sheriff's department. What do we do in the meantime?

Page 26
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
We're running right now wide open. I need, I don't have a full-time drug officer. I need one. I don't have school resource officers. I think that we need them. I sit and realize some of the things that we don't have now. I can't really tell, I've got one of the oldest if not the oldest jail in the state of North Carolina, and I've gone out here with a group of people like Don Anderson and Becky Anderson and some of these people and tried to write grants. We just put one in for about $400,000 to the Golden Leaf and I'm told—you know the tobacco settlement—and I am told that no money this year—
ROB AMBERG:
[unclear]
JOHN LEDFORD:
It just didn't get to come west of Charlotte. I go down to Charlotte and they're building. They've got everything. I'm thinking to myself —

Page 27
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOHN LEDFORD:
[unclear]
ROB AMBERG:
Now what do you feel is going to be your biggest challenge once again I-26 opens, once that whole corridor gets opened up. What do you feel like is going to be the challenge? I'm thinking what is the challenge for you both as sheriff, but what is the challenge for you personally also? How is that going to change your world?
JOHN LEDFORD:
One of the promises that I've made to myself when I came into office, I told my chief deputy and my staff hear me say this all the time. I tell them, 'You do your job and let me worry about the politics.' I always tell them, 'We're not going to spend this four, worrying about the next four.' Personally, my job is to continue to get my education. My job is to continue to stay updated, advanced, well-trained. The FBI just called this morning, and what they're trying to do is I believe I have maneuvered myself into the FBI National Academy, which is in Quantico, Virginia in April. If I get to go to that, that's probably the most elite executive development there is anywhere in the United States, a graduate from the FBI Academy. So personally right now personally is still sheriff's department related. Right. They've got a lot of rumors I have turned down jobs with bigger departments with the state and such, but I have no desire to leave Madison County. So I want to be able to, I want to build something here. That's what I'd like. I'd like to be the type of sheriff that maybe not in four years but maybe eight years I'm still going to be—I'm only thirty-five now—so I'm in my mid-forties. I want to be able to take a day and go to Asheville, I can go, and the department will operate without me. But I want us to have quality law enforcement. I just think we've got to have it because I know what's out here. I have seen what is other places.

Page 28
ROB AMBERG:
Do you feel like some of those same problems are going to be facing, are coming to Madison County?
JOHN LEDFORD:
They're here now. The thing about Madison County is, and you've been here thirty years. You correct me if you think I'm wrong. The wrong, seems like a lot of people in Madison County, the first thing they do with any problem is deny it exists. They're like if we just don't mention it, it'll go away. But it's just like. It can't be. That's not here. Just don't look at it. Don't mention it and maybe everybody will forget about it. Then they're like, that's not going to work. So we've wasted six months now or a year because of trying to pretend it doesn't exist. Then we want to talk awhile, and then we're going to spend another year or so trying to decide the best. We're going to fight over who's going to decide. Somewhere down the line, somebody is going to decide, and no matter what he decides the other side is going to pick his decision to pieces, and then eventually it's going to get so bad we have to act and then we swallow the peel and go on.
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
That, it may not be that quick. It may be a whole lot of time in between there. I can stand down here as sheriff. I think one thing though about the people of Madison County. They appreciate hard work. As long as I'm out leading the fight for sheriff who's visible, and I'm on that scanner night and day, and we're making the type of arrests we're making. The local newspapers are giving us the type of coverage and TV, and they see that we're working. They believe the need exists. We're going to get what we have to have. It may be that we'll never get, I'm never going to have. My patrol car is the newest car we have. It's a '99. The problem is I bought it in 2000. I

Page 29
bought it because somebody else had ordered it, and they didn't pick it up, and they didn't have what I wanted on it, but it will get by. That's the way everything is in Madison County with anything, the schools or anything else. We're always trying to get by. So hopefully the good side of I-26 is that the tax base increases, and we're able to do some things, to have some of the things that are ultra-modern. Just once we'd get a Cadillac and not a Chevrolet. It's going to happen sooner or later. I think you've got to be—I believe my father and Don Anderson , like them or dislike them, I know them. I know that they didn't do it for themselves. They believed they had a goal or they had a 'calling,' I guess is the best way to put it. Some people probably wouldn't ever believe it, but I know it because I know how they made their money, how they worked and what they got out of it. They weren't down here to better themselves. They weren't trying to get rich or secure some government contract or sell the county land or whatever be the case. They did what they had to do. So that's what I hope to do. I don't want to stay so long that I become somebody the county doesn't trust. I believe in term limits. I really do. I believe if you get the right man here and you've got eight years and you know that's all he's going to get, then he's going to go down here and work like hell for his eight years, and he doesn't have to worry about it. He knows he's got it. That's the bad thing about being an elected official is that in the back of your mind, nobody wants to lose and you've got—I'll tell you something self-preservation kicks in and these poor commissioners or school board either one. If you take a guy that really wants to be there and enjoys that position and he has to make the decision whether it's the right decision politically or the right decision for the kids, which one is he going to make?
ROB AMBERG:
That's right.

Page 30
JOHN LEDFORD:
Somehow, I don't know but—
ROB AMBERG:
That's a hard choice to make.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It is a hard choice.
ROB AMBERG:
It is a hard choice.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It seemed like up in Buncombe County no matter who's the Sheriff in a county that size, it's not going to make that much difference. Personnel are going to change. You've got majors and then you've got your chief deputies and you've got majors and got captains, got lieutenants, and you've got sergeants, then you get down to a whole host of just deputies. The same was in the jail. So the top knocker up there is an administrator. The department still functions. They're not going to. But down here with the change of the sheriff, you could change the whole, the whole function of this jail. You could go back twenty-five employees or less, and you could fire everybody down here and he could just, that's the only kind of thing that scares me. I'm the only sheriff that's ever been to basic law enforcement training in the history of Madison County.
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
And I'm closing in on the only thing I lack now is just time. I have enough training hours for my advanced law enforcement certificate. I will qualify for it the day I get my twelfth year in. I've got enough points waiting on me to get it. So my chief deputy is the only chief deputy. He holds an advanced law enforcement certificate. I have a number of officers, my DARE officers and my detective, they hold their advanced law enforcement. So we've got training and equipment has come a long way.
ROB AMBERG:
Do you, with this, with the road and we're already seeing it. This has been going on for a while. It's not just the highway that's changing this. We've been seeing a

Page 31
real influx of new people coming into the county with new ideas, different kinds of thoughts about what community is all that kind of thing. How does that, how does that conflict with the say the local community and is that something that you as sheriff kind of anticipate as being an issue as being problematic or—
JOHN LEDFORD:
Well, I'll give you an example of that. This is an interesting story. I had a man at the lower end of the county who sold property to two people out of Raleigh. They bought the farm. Got along very well, but there was a, the old man took care of a cemetery and had a right of way through the property he sold to the cemetery. The problem being is that I think a lot of people in Madison County do not really know what a right of way is. They might have abused the word right of way to the point where he was going to do what he wanted to do on that road going in. It came down to a verbal confrontation. Blows may have been struck and warrants were drawn and it came across my desk. When it was all said and done, the people who had moved in from Raleigh had charged this man with assault. The man comes to me and wants me to go down and talk to these people and see if we can get the charges dropped. So I go down and spend an afternoon with these people, very nice people. Very nice. Moved in here, educated and work in banking I believe in Raleigh, but these people, they had some means but they wanted to come back. They really wanted to get along. They felt like that they were being bullied over by this guy. In my mind this guy here may not have thought that he was bully over them. He just simply thought that, "Well, hell I sold them the property. I've got a right of way, and I'm going to use the right of way. It's my cemetery, and I've got to get in and I'm going to show who boss is." I spent the day down there and talked them into dropping the charges. I don't really want to say talked them into dropping the

Page 32
charges. I basically gave them my word that this guy will not be a problem to them, and it's not going to be necessary to go on into court. It might be handled—see Haywood and Buncombe have what's called mediation. Down here the sheriff does the mediating. I had spent the afternoon with these people, and we'd come to an agreement on all that and went back and told this man that and thought we had it worked out and the guy who had violated these people's space and hell then he decides he wants a trial. So we go over and have a trial, spend all day over in court over something that should've never been there started with. In the end the exact same thing the judge found is exactly what I had worked out. My point being on that is you've got people coming into the county who are used to doing things one way. You've got people in the county who are used to doing things another. I think the people who live here are determined that they're not going to be run over by the outsiders. I think the people that are here are, or are coming in here are somewhat afraid of the mystique of some of these people in these communities of being gun-toting mountain people, and they don't want trouble. I think it's just a whole lot of fear based upon ignorance, or maybe they just don't know.
ROB AMBERG:
Or just even a lack of contact.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Lack of communication maybe is a better word.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
JOHN LEDFORD:
That's kind of funny because I know the old farmer because I'm from Madison County and grew up in there. I know them all, and I can talk, I can talk their language, but I've been out of here and worked off from here and I understand how an educated person moving in here from Raleigh would think and might, and what their customs might be. Maybe that's a good thing. So as long as I can continue to function

Page 33
as a go-between.
I think the sheriff of this county has to do that because I hadn't been sheriff, what Brenda, I guess about three months down here and one day an old man in [unclear] brand overalls comes in and says, 'I need to make an appointment to talk to my attorney.' I'm like, 'Well okay. Why don't you call him?' He said, 'E.Y. always called him for me.' He throws his attorney's name down and all he's got is his name and I said, 'Are you serious?' And he says,' Yes.' So I looked and I looked the phone and I called up here this is Sheriff Ledford down here in Madison County. I believe that Butch Gudge represents Mr. Stanley. He said, 'He does.' He says, 'He does.' I said, 'Well this may sound crazy but I'd like to make an appointment for him because I says, 'He says E.Y. always did it. And the woman said, 'He did.' So I get him an appointment set up. That's the way it was done.
ROB AMBERG:
That story you just told was just really very interesting to me because I think that that's what I see kind of being the type of problem. It becomes almost like a cultural or class kind of issue as opposed to almost maybe even a law enforcement issue. It become something totally different and twenty, thirty years ago, E.Y. didn't necessarily need to be able to deal with so many new people coming in because they weren't here for one thing, or they were just starting to come. But the fact that you recognize that you have to be able to go both ways.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure. A woman was talking to me yesterday at lunch and she said, 'Sheriff, how do I get a handicapped license plate?' I said, 'Well ma'am. I'm not real sure on that.' I said, 'But I know you have to have something in writing from your doctor to start that process.' She said, 'Are you sure about that?' She says, 'Is it a form or just a letter?' I said, 'Well I'm not sure.' I said, 'Tell you what you do. You check with your doctor.

Page 34
He will know and then regardless of what it is, you get what you need and bring it to me.' I said, 'We will call DMV down here and get you set up with a license plate.' I would do that what Brenda, five times a day.
BRENDA:
Yes.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Probably five times a day. That's nothing unusual.
BRENDA:
[unclear]
JOHN LEDFORD:
Exactly. That woman right there is one that wants to write a—. She has sat down there and composed a play dealing with the stresses involved in emergency management fire fighters and law enforcement. She feels like this play needs to be put to a training film so that it can help. It may be a great thing. She's been to everybody but now she's come to me because she wants me to sit down and with her get together and write a grant so that she can get money to produce this play. Now whether that money exists, I don't know. I don't even know how you can check into that. But I'll tell you when I get with this woman, I'm going to spend a portion of my day trying to work that out. Is that a law enforcement function? Probably not. But it is a sheriff department function in Madison County.
ROB AMBERG:
That's interesting.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It's just, it's just the type of thing. If they're not sure, they come down here to me. You wouldn't believe some of the type things we've had down here. I've got one woman here that lives in this community and her and her neighbor, she has a son who is somewhat of a hellion so to speak. He goes out the driveway too fast. They must share a right of way. But one thing they also share are water rights. The man, the neighbor controls the water. Apparently he has the ability to shut the water off. When the son gets

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up there and gets to partying up and down the road and doing things he doesn't like, he just goes over and cuts their water off. So then the woman calls me. Well then I, for a while there I would call up there and he would say, 'Okay.' And he would turn the water back on. But that got where that didn't work so what I would do. The old man has a scanner. So usually what he would do is cut the water off at about ten. She'll call me about eleven. So about eleven thirty, I'll dispatch a car out there. He'll hear the car en route on the scanner and turn the water back on. So it's always there. So I have to come out of a meeting to handle those type things. As you can see there, I would say fifty percent of my time doesn't have anything to do with law enforcement, nothing to do with law enforcement. It has to do with giving legal advice, and I feel bad about that part. I'm very cautious about that, but they'll call me before they'll go get an attorney because they want to know if they think they need an attorney.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
JOHN LEDFORD:
They know I'm going to tell them.
ROB AMBERG:
That's that social work function that we talked about.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It is.
ROB AMBERG:
It's interesting because kind of a modern law enforcement in cities certainly that function is basically eliminated. It is really a law enforcement thing. But here, one thing that always impressed me about E.Y. Ponder was, I mean, he was this kind of father figure almost.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure he was.

Page 36
ROB AMBERG:
In the whole county. He played that role as the, I mean, he was really hard core when he needed to be, but at the same time he was also like the knowing kind of father who was really going to do that first.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure.
ROB AMBERG:
What I'm hearing you say is that the county is changing so much that there is this need for modern law enforcement but—
JOHN LEDFORD:
There is.
ROB AMBERG:
Yet at the same time there is still this very clear need for the other.
JOHN LEDFORD:
E.Y. affected generations I guess. There are generations that knew E.Y.or still know E.Y. or knew E.Y. as sheriff. That is the E.Y. people that you're going to, they expect you, they call me the little E.Y. They'll come down and say, 'Well you're the next little E.Y.' or 'God bless you.' To be sheriff of Madison county is just unbelievably great sometimes because I can walk into Carl's up here, restaurant and some little old lady will come over and just hug my neck and just say, 'God bless you. You're doing a good job.' I don't know them from Adam, and that'll make a glass eye cry. That's great. Then sometimes though I'll have them down here in the lobby, and they'll get in a knock down drag out and I'll be—I often tell the story that I feel like King Solomon and the two harlots. That one rolls over and smothers the child, and they come to me to decide who's going to get the live baby. He says, 'Well cut the child in half.' In Madison County half the people would say, 'Saw it up,' and they'd start fighting over who got the head or the feet. That wouldn't work in Madison County. You've got to even be slicker than that. But the sheriff settles a lot of things. But at the same time with E.Y., he never had to worry about luminol or blood splatter or DNA. Those were a different generation of law

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enforcement. He never had to deal with any of that, and I have to have the ability to understand that. I have to have persons capable of recognizing that and working with that and being able to work with the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab and these attorneys. It doesn't make any difference whether I keep up or not. The attorneys are. If I'm trying, if your child, son or daughter, uncle or cousin has been murdered, and I go over there, and I don't put on anything less than the best case possible, they're never going to forget that. I owe them that much. I am never going to allow myself or my personnel to go over and be made a fool of in the courtroom. I don't know about E.Y. E.Y. lost some cases. He won a lot of cases, but he began to change then from '86 to '98 in Madison County depended on who you talked to was really the dark ages in Madison County in law enforcement wise because they may not have kept up. They may not really have cared toward the end, and that's probably what got them beat. You've got to care. When you get down here and you get to the point where—. If I ever get to the point where I don't want to come to work, if I ever get to the point where I don't care about my personnel and the people of this county, I won't be here because if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. I believe that. Maybe somebody young and all is what they need to carry them through and somebody else will be here. There will be another sheriff. Nobody stays forever. E.Y. tried. He stayed for thirty-two years though. The only thing that caught him was his age. If he'd have started, of course he probably did, he did start at my age. He was about thirty-two when he was elected his first term and he was sheriff at seventy. People will say, 'You're the next E.Y.' I don't want to be the next E.Y. Ponder. Stresses of this job now are so great that nobody can stand it more than twelve, sixteen years unless you

Page 38
did—. It's an amazing amount of stress. There's more stress being sheriff. There's ten times the amount of stress being sheriff as there are being a deputy or an alcohol agent or SBI agent or anything. You've got twenty-some thousand people in this county, and you're everybody's sheriff, and they're all going to call and ask you.
ROB AMBERG:
That's right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
They're all going to call and ask you.
ROB AMBERG:
Sometimes it seems like they all call at once too.
JOHN LEDFORD:
They do. I've been to funeral homes, and people hand me speeding tickets. The day of that parade that we were riding, I had a couple of guys bring me speeding tickets run along side the car ask for help. Me riding in the Christmas parade. It's just as simple as this. You just imagine this. You walk into the steak house at Mars Hill, and you're the sheriff. You start through the line. You've had kind of a bad day, don't really feel good, arguing with your family. You don't really want to be messed with. You're going through and you see, there are ten people that know you in the room, and you speak to nine of them. The tenth guy you don't speak to because you just don't see him, you're not really got your head on straight that day. You're distracted on something else and don't speak to him maybe the most powerful politician of the bunch. If you don't speak to him and recognize him, he may be mad. Or he may say because you didn't speak to him, 'John must be mad.' Or he'll call down here and say, 'Why didn't you talk to me?' Those are not the normal stresses that anybody has to deal with. That's what you deal with being sheriff. The rumors in the county, my life is like, I can only imagine what it must be like to be a celebrity sometime with the paparazzi. Because Madison County doesn't have paparazzi they have the rumor mill. If I talk to a woman, there's

Page 39
something going on. We're having an affair or if I'm seen with such and such, then he's paying me off. If I do a favor for this one, then we've got some underhanded deal together.
ROB AMBERG:
Yeah. This place, that impressed me right away when I moved here about how fast word travels and that kind of thing. Your dad and Don worked for years and I totally agree with you that I don't think that they were working at all for themselves but really working for what they perceived as for the betterment of the county. They were looking to bring more things into this county for people. One of those things is the I-26 corridor. Another is the widening of 19-23 and will be the widening of 19. That's the next big project that's going to come those kinds of things. But it also has meant the four-lane from Weaverville to Marshall and the health clinics—
JOHN LEDFORD:
And some of the biggest things, green boxes.
ROB AMBERG:
There's any number of things.
JOHN LEDFORD:
The green trash boxes.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Were one of the biggest things I'll ever remember. Those, trash is still the biggest issue in this county. Nursing home, they worked this thing and they still sit on that board over there. We didn't have one.
ROB AMBERG:
Health clinic.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Health clinics.
ROB AMBERG:
Hot Springs health clinic. All those kinds of things. What I guess I'm getting at is, is there a point where change then becomes problematic? Where, do we, I again, I know the county I think fairly well. I understand certain—. I was here before the

Page 40
Weaverville-Marshall road. So I know how long it takes to get to Asheville the old way. If you had a job and that kind of thing, just access in and out of the county was a real problem.
JOHN LEDFORD:
And still is.
ROB AMBERG:
And still is.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It's a law enforcement issue of getting from one end of the county to the other if you don't have but one deputy working. He's in Spring Creek and has to go to the other end.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly. So I guess what I'm wondering is, what I always ask myself is. I spent so many years it seems like wishing that more things were available, wishing it was a little easier to get out although I did want to live here, wishing that access was a little bit better. But then it seems like we've reached a point where it's kind of like I find myself saying, "well enough is enough now." Do we really want the same problems that Asheville has or Greensboro has? Those kinds of things. So again how much change do we want?
How much change is good? Where do we—
JOHN LEDFORD:
I guess my answer to that is and I think you would agree with this, change is inevitable. It's coming. You want to throttle that or control how much change comes in. The things that the county commissioners or even the sheriff have to be very careful of is to make sure that change is fair. Every community in this county is different from the next. Mars Hill people are even though they're from Madison County are different than Marshall. Marshall is different from Laurel. Laurel is different from Spring Creek. They're different in many different ways. We have to be fair about it. When I first came in, my statement was that the reason that I wanted these four COPS officers—and this is

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a true statement—I've got one deputy. He can spend all his time in North Marshall, Beech Glen and Mars Hill. You'll never see a deputy in Laurel or Spring Creek because that's where the calls for service are because that's where the population is and will be. But it's not fair because they deserve, you deserve, to have your house checked. Or if you need a deputy, call a deputy if you live in Laurel. If you don't give me these officers, they're going to stay up here. They can't go down. They can't be in two places at once. I don't care who the sheriff is. So we've got to be fair. Another things is, is like cell phones, I know there has been a big war in this county about cell towers. Either you're for them or against them. I know that you know having been from other places from a law enforcement stand point I can't, I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible because I felt like anything I might do might sway it one way or the other. But I felt like we were going to get them, and I felt like we needed them from a law enforcement standpoint because myself and my chief deputy from Marshall down only have the Madison County Sheriff's Department channel one, and it cannot be secured. So if I'm down here on something very, very important going down, I don't have the ability to talk to anybody any other way than come over that main channel or stop and find two pay phones. I don't think you're really going to find any pay phones in that area. These cell phones are very important and not just cell phones but digital cell phones. So I thought we needed the service, but now as far as the types of towers coming in, I tried to stay out of that. I think there's a legitimate, I think I'm glad that's a decision made by the planning board of adjustments or commissioners or whomever and not up to me. So I think what you do is we accept that cell phones are coming, but we try to determine how

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they're going to come. Probably how much change is coming is the good Lord only knows because I'd say it's going to be amazing.
ROB AMBERG:
Right.
JOHN LEDFORD:
I watch Haywood County and some of these counties have these interstates through them. It seems like. I'll give you an example. In 1991 my chief deputy and I, my chief deputy was the chief investigator and I was the fugitive officer working in Buncombe County. Mark Lane ran a pawnshop on Leicester Street. He was about twenty years of age and was shot and killed. They sent myself and another SWAT team member to Dandridge, Hamblen County, Dandridge, Tennessee on a manhunt. The boys that did it were named Davis and Hood. These boys, one of them was paroled, had killed a man in Ohio, did seventeen years and paroled out. Came down and lived with his sister in Hamblen Tennessee or Hamblen County, Dandridge, Tennessee there and began to armed rob everything down there. Came over into North Carolina and armed robbed the McDonalds in Canton and came out and pulled this armed robbery and shot and killed this young man. I spent five days in Dandridge, Tennessee. The sheriff down there at that time, this is 1991 now, they had about eight deputies about like my department now, a little smaller. The deputies didn't have bullet proof vests and really were no better equipped, probably not as well equipped as we are now. I know they were. They sent Charlie Long, who was the sheriff then, sent two of us down there heavily armed because he figured they'd come home and there may be a shoot out, and they wanted help. They signed a mutual aid agreement and sent us down. We had Federal warrants. We had jurisdiction. They had a hotel there, and they had one truck stop type diner. This year, which is about not even ten years later, I went to Pigeon Forge with my wife and got off

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at that exit, and in ten years now they have you just would not believe the place. They have McDonalds. They have Taco Bell. They have just, that whole exit is just. It's just like, you wouldn't even know it. If it weren't for that one hotel that's, that truck stop still there, I wouldn't even know the exit now. That's in nine years. So we're not going to be any different. Exit 11 will explode up here I believe, and the change will be so great, so quickly that I hope we're prepared for it. But I'm not sure that we are. I really don't know that we are. I don't know that we could be prepared for it because I'm not sure we have the tax base from a law enforcement standpoint to hire the deputies and the equipment and get them trained and pay them salaries to keep them.
ROB AMBERG:
With kind of change coming say at Exit 11 right there at Mars Hill, what do you anticipate is going to be your biggest law enforcement issue at a place like that? What is going to be the type of thing that you're anticipating?
JOHN LEDFORD:
The immediate thing you'll have is armed robberies. Now of course that will be annexed into the city limits of Mars Hill. But there are two things on any interstate, you deal with drugs, couriers that type things, transportation of drugs. You're going to be coming right out of Florida. I-95 is known as the drug pipeline. 26 [N.C.] now is going to come, go right into 81 [N.C.], right on up too. So you're going to have to deal with that, and then the type of crimes that are committed that come off of interstates. Those type crimes, if you will look at most counties, most would tell you—Sheriff Alexander or Bobby [unclear] —of some of them being a "stop and rob." People pop off of the exit, rob the Exxon station, get back on the exit, and they can be in South Carolina in about an hour and Tennessee in about twenty minutes. Three different states now within an hour radius. Who do you look for? Who do you go out here and pick up? If somebody just stops off

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an exit and robs and shoots the place up, what do you do? The drugs coming in, but not only that just with the growth like that the hard drugs begin to come in the county.
We're not talking about personal use marijuana, which is probably to the point now that most law enforcement would tell you the best thing to do is just decriminalize it. It's everywhere. I probably ought not say that, but I've never been convinced that marijuana, personal use of marijuana is any worse than alcohol and probably not as bad. I've got a real problem with alcohol, alcohol especially with the way its abused, and the way we allow it be abused for money. Marijuana is illegal, and it's just illegal. Alcohol is just as bad, and it's legal because there's so much money in it, and they've got lobbyist. As an ALE agent, you tell me why we've got fifteen hundred troopers out here trying to catch people driving drunk and a hundred and ten ALE agents trying to stop people from selling it to them. That doesn't make sense to me. Then that's another thing. Will we become a wet county, a county that allows alcohol sales? Are we going to watch, since, at some point in time there are going to be enough people move in here that we're going to realize the money from the sales of alcohol and stuff such as that and restaurants and stuff and if you are going to have growth, you're going to have to be wet. We're going to have, we're already wet in Hot Springs. Hot Springs from what I am told and what little I am able to get out down there, especially at night and all they have some very good bed and breakfasts and restaurants and stuff. They seem to be thriving very well. So how long can we hold it off? How long can Mars Hill College say, "Well, we're a Baptist college. We're not going to allow it." How long until the retail end of it is bigger than the college, which has always been bigger than the mainstay.

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ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
Well, like you say the new people coming in too. There'll be a point in time where that population will overcome the Baptist population that is kind of restricting the sale of alcohol.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure. And you know—
ROB AMBERG:
But that adds a whole 'nother level of problem.
JOHN LEDFORD:
It does. It's an amazing amount of problems. It's also going to require that the sheriff of the county is going to have to be educated. The county commissioners are going to have to be educated because of a different set of issues. Used to be I think, my father is a very, he's a very quick study. If you've ever been around my father, he would amaze you with his ability for numbers and memory and read something and grasp what it says probably much in excess of my ability. Don Anderson is just phenomenal. He also had the ability to stand at that store behind that counter, and the farmer could come in and tell him his problems and concerns were and dad would keep that in the back of his mind. Always when he got in these meetings, that problem was in the back of his mind. So he could balance it out. There's going to come a point in time though where as you say, retail's going to come up. New people coming in. Farming land is going to go down. It's going to maybe be a tourist type economy, that type thing. So the decisions that the commissioners are going to make may not be influenced by native Madison County people who were fifth generation or whatever it is. Somewhere I hope somebody will keep that in the back of their mind and be here at that store, a man can still walk in and lay that number down and they'll still say, 'I may be busy but I'm still going to call and make an appointment for you.' That's what we can't lose. If we lose that, we've really lost everything. It's a shame. I think it's a shame.
You know Bobby Medford like

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him or not, the old people up in Barnsville. My wife's from Barnardsville, which is a rural community in Buncombe County. Bobby still gets out and rides in and comes up there and gets a cold drink at some of those stores and stands around and talks to people. I don't think he really does it for political reasons. I think it's some days where it gets so bad that you just can't stand it. You just want to run. You run back to what you know. I still get out and see my father two or three days a week. Some days it's pretty hard to do because while I'm there everybody wants to tell me what's going on or what they need help with, but I still do it. I think it's good sometimes to just get out and do stuff like that. Really in law enforcement if you really look at it, two of the biggest concepts sweeping back into law enforcement are community-oriented policing and problem- oriented policing—
ROB AMBERG:
Right, which is so amazing because of what this place is all about. You've got this history of community law enforcement—
JOHN LEDFORD:
It's like I was almost born to be sheriff because the first community-oriented policing squad west of Gaston County that I know of anywhere was in 1992. Charlie Long got into that in a big way. He sent five of us. It was called the sheriff's community enforcement team. He got, it got into problem-oriented policing in a big way. Basically that's what says as opposed to going out and writing tickets and kicking in doors and stuff, you identify the problem and you eliminate the problem. The problem may not be solved with just enforcement efforts. It may be code enforcement. One of the big things we were having problems with at that time. We were having problems with parks there in Buncombe County, drug use in the parks, prostitution in the parks, homosexual solicitations in the parks, Karen Styles there disappeared. What we did was we decided

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the problem was the parks, not just the parks but the time the parks were accessible to the people because none of this was really going on during the day. It was after dark. We brought in DOC [Department of Corrections] prisoners and cut back and thinned out all the foliage around the park, which made illegal activities much more difficult because it was wide open. Then we got night-lights put up in the parks. Then what we did was we got the parks and rec say at nine o'clock they were put off limits, and you went in and put a padlock on them and if you got caught in that park, we arrested you for trespassing. It was all posted. It just fell off to nearly nothing. We let them know, and then we made a concerted effort to patrol those parks. We let them know if you're going to come to those parks and commit a crime, you're going to get [it] and people went other places to do it. It was pretty interesting, and then they told us—I went to Baltimore, Maryland to a community-oriented policing conference. There were three of us that got picked up there to go to it. The story they told was Andy Griffith, which comes back, and they talked about the first really test of Problem Oriented Policing was solved on Andy Griffith show. They said what it was Ernest T. Bass couldn't get a girlfriend. He wanted a uniform. So he came to town and started throwing rocks through the windows. Do you remember the show? They keep locking him up. He keeps getting out. They keep locking him up. He keeps getting out. Finally Andy says, 'Why are you throwing these rocks?' He says, 'All I want is a uniform.' That was the real problem. So he gives Barney's uniform to Ernest T. Bass and he goes back into the mountains never to be heard from again. So you see, that's problem-oriented policing. He solved the problem. They could have locked him up, but as long as he could get out, he was going to be throwing rocks. They told that now at a national policing conference. I think the chief of

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police that spoke there was like the chief female chief in like Houston or one of these major departments. They know about Mayberry, North Carolina too.
ROB AMBERG:
It's interesting. How do we solve a problem for example some guy in some rogue from down in Charleston or somewhere, down in Florence, South Carolina comes up here, gets off the interstate at Exit Eleven, goes up here and I don't know robs Bill Zink or somebody like that, then jumps right back on the interstate? That's the type of thing that it's very difficult to solve with community policing but also is a problem that probably didn't even exist in this county twenty years ago. Although at the same time I remember there was a period where when that crowd came through here late '70s I guess early '80s and their car broke down over near Belva and—
JOHN LEDFORD:
Killed the boys.
ROB AMBERG:
Killed a couple of boys over there. That was a similar kind of thing. They were from out of state and driving through and that kind of thing. And were eventually apprehended out in Colorado I think.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Colorado, what you do in a situation like that, you have to just have a well manned, well-equipped sheriff's department. You have to have Crimestoppers, big thing. We don't have it, love to have it, but who's going to do it. We're just now getting to the point where I've started working with a couple of communities on Community Watch. It comes down to having deputies. Eventually we're going to have to have zones in this county. We're going to have to have enough deputies where we're going to have one in Mars Hill. He's going to be the Mars Hill cop because that's all he's going to do because with all, you've got to work those type things. You've got to have communications. You've got to have training and people who can do and in that kind of scene, crime scene

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work. My chief deputy does it all now, and he's very good at it. But you're going to have to have, he's not going to be able to keep up with all this and still be chief deputy. You've got to have somebody who can come in there and do fingerprints, who can do luminol, who understand blood spatters. ROCIC [Regional Organized Crime Information Center], they belong to some of these different organizations that you can log on their computer and check it to see if there are Mos [modus operendi] and other crimes that have occurred. That, those type crimes are basically solved by good police work, but you've got to put yourself in a position to be able to solve those type crimes. That's the biggest thing. You've got to pay. That's another thing Madison County loses out. If you can buy a good deputy for $25,000 a year or you can get an average one for twenty or a poor one for fifteen, some would want the fifteen, and we'd settle for the twenty.
ROB AMBERG:
That's right. That's really true.
JOHN LEDFORD:
That's' the way their going to work it out. We just can't pay $25,000, nobody is worth that. If you think about it, what I'm trying to tell you is your chief deputy is probably, he was the lieutenant at the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department who was in charge of all major investigations in Buncombe County which was 460 let's see, 460 square miles and about 165,000 [people] when I was a deputy there, the population. He ran the detective division, which gave him four detective sergeants and twenty-five detectives, and he was making a sizable much amount more. He came down here to be my chief deputy because he wanted to be chief deputy, and he's my friend for $30,000 a year. He's got eight deputies, and he's still got 450 some square miles and about 22,000 people. Much more rural and nothing to work with. He went from having anything he wanted to really having not much. Having to make do. I left a job at the state

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of North Carolina, my biggest worry was as an ALE agent was every three years what color new car I was going to get. We had the best guns, and we had the best training. We'd take a week and go to in-service. We had schools continuously that they were sending us to. We were trying to get the road covered down here.
ROB AMBERG:
This is the opportunity not just for Randy but also for yourself to really build a department, and often times I know from myself I've taken jobs or done things because of the opportunity that it offers, and not, it's got nothing to do with money or—
JOHN LEDFORD:
Sure, it really doesn't. The only thing about it is that I hope one day my frustration level just doesn't get to the point. You know I don't know how to compare it. It's just like you know what needs to be done, and you know what equipment you need to do it. You've just got to get the money to get it done. Everything revolves around money. When you go out here and you write these grants and they give you $10,000 down here in Madison County for a new phone system for crime control and public safety, that's great because you need that phone system. But then you turn around and APD [Ashville Police Department] who's got all kinds of money and gets $70,000. You're like, how the hell did they do that? Proportionally which one needs it more.
ROB AMBERG:
Exactly.
JOHN LEDFORD:
Which one is going to be affected more. Is Madison County with that seventy dollars going to get more bang for the buck than I think we would. I think we would. We've got some monstrous things we're going to have to undertake. It concerns me that I know what I need from a law enforcement standpoint. But we've got schools that have roofs leaking. I don't care what it costs. The children, they come first. Bad guys unless it's a serious violent crime, they've got to come somewhere below that. I

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really believe we're robbing Peter to pay Paul. I don't know what we'd do. I really don't. That's why Anita Davies if you go over and talk to her, she'll tell you I don't ask her to write a grant. I write. Then if I don't have any other way, I'll move money in my budget. We had a professional grant writer here I guess under the other administration. By the time I could've tracked him down, me and Don Anderson worked so well together. He knows what I want. He knows what I expect, and he knows what I'm willing to do. We get together. We're going to write two grants next week. We're working on it. One thing I'd like to see we're talking about change is that my chief deputy is assigned two vehicles. He has a Blazer, '94, '95 Blazer we got given to us when Eddie Fox's was, position was moved. It's got 145,000 miles on it, and he's got a used highway patrol car. It's a '98 Ford. It's got 80,000, and some days in good weather he drives the patrol car because he can get places. It's got a big motor in it, and it's got blue lights and sirens. On bad weather he drives the blazer which has got a four-cylinder engine and run about ninety miles an hour down hill with a strong wind pushing it. People won't get out of the way of it because it's red, and you just can't get anywhere in the thing. But he has to be able to. It's either go in bad weather or go in good weather. So you have to have two different vehicles. So what I've been talking to Don about is, is why not write a grant to Crime Control for what I would term a crime scene vehicle. Because Randy does all the crime scene processing, does all the photographs, takes all the fingerprints. He is trained in blood spatter, luminol, can do the gun shot residue kits, anything like that. He has all that equipment in the vehicles, but he has to continually trade them out. Can you imagine if you have to load it out of one into another and inevitably you're not going to take it all because you're not going to take the time to

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unload it. No matter what if you've got one thing, you need the other. That's just Murphy's law I guess. So what we're looking at is writing a grant. Hopefully the state will fund us for a nice modern four-wheel drive sports utility type vehicle, and in the meantime the grant would also include things like shelves and stuff that you can now order for these vehicles and make that his primary assigned vehicle. It will be marked up as such. It will be fully equipped. If he has to go to a call, he's got his bar lights and sirens and if he has to go four wheel drive, he can push a button—
ROB AMBERG:
It's an all-weather, all-terrain kind of vehicle.
JOHN LEDFORD:
All-weather.
ROB AMBERG:
That makes complete sense.
JOHN LEDFORD:
We've had to make do because we didn't have any money. So we took the vehicle that's bright red and looks like a firetruck coming down the road and we used it. We went and bought a used highway patrol vehicle and they both, I'm not complaining, but I'm just saying I got both of those, one given to me and one on a grant. So it didn't cost the county anything. But now I'm not going over and asking them to buy me this thirty thousand-dollar vehicle. I'm going to ask Crime Control and Public Safety, my old organization for the money, and let's see if they'll give it to me. I'm going to call and beg and borrow and steal to do that.
ROB AMBERG:
I'm going to ask this last question and we might not, I might not get all of your answer, but would you have liked to have been sheriff during E.Y.'s time?
JOHN LEDFORD:
I would've.
ROB AMBERG:
Would you like to go back?
JOHN LEDFORD:
I would've. I told my wife that I was probably born—
END OF INTERVIEW