Mineral County Sheriff Stewart Handte looked relieved the Monday following Armed Forces Day weekend. “For my first Armed Forces Day, it went pretty well,” Handte said.
Handte also added he felt great pride in being sheriff, a member of the sheriff’s dept., and of the Armed Forces Day Committee. He commended members of the committee for their diligence in putting the weekend events together.
Handte did have one suggestion for the AFD Committee: “I’d really like to see a demolition derby. People really like to see cars smashing in to one another.” He suggested the rodeo grounds as a possible staging place for the derby.
“Our department was busy, but not busy in terms of arrests. We gave a lot of public service rides. I don’t mind being the county taxi service. I’d rather give people a ride than have them get behind the wheel after drinking,” Handte stated.
“I really enjoyed the mud bogs, where I spent a good portion of Saturday afternoon. Everyone seemed to be having a good time,” Handte said.
Handte said he appreciated the relative tranquility of the weekend. “We made a few arrests, but really it went off without a hitch as far as I’m concerned.
Except for one incident in particular: A woman allegedly abandoned her child for a period of time at Lions Park. This did not sit well with Handte.
“Saturday afternoon we had a little boy who was seven and left abandoned or unattended at the park,” Handte said. The sheriff and another man stayed with the boy while deputies went in search of the parent, whom deputies eventually found.
“Let me make this clear. We will not tolerate children being left or abandoned for any significant portion of time. The young man was very upset that he couldn’t find his mom,” Handte stated.
After deputies located the boy’s mother, she was arrested and incarcerated. “I don’t think any parent in their right mind should leave a seven-year-old boy unattended in an area with so many people. We will not tolerate neglect,” Handte said.
Still, the incident didn’t dampen Handte’s enthusiasm for the weekend as a whole. “From a public service standpoint, it went great. I’m very proud of our community,” Handte concluded.