MEIGS COUNTY — Multiple Meigs County agencies coming together to help one another and the community as a whole was evident in the latest hiring by the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office, in collaboration with the Meigs County Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS), and with the approval of the Meigs County Commissioners recently hired a full time deputy to serve at DJFS.
Deputy Joseph “Joe” Barnhart started work last week at the agency. Barnhart will assist DJFS will investigation of child abuse and neglect calls, investigate fraud cases, and provide security at the agency.
Director of the Meigs County Department of Job and Family Services Chris Shank said that Barnhart has been meeting with staff at the agency and will be attending meetings with them to learn about specifics of the cases they handle.
“This is a great partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Job and Family Services,” said Shank. “Having a deputy on site and assisting the DJFS staff will help us fulfill one of our key missions, that is to protect children. Not only will the deputy help investigate suspected child abuse and neglect reports, which will be his primary role, but he will also assist the agency with investigating fraud complaints, process serving and providing security at our offices. Many thanks go to the sheriff and county commissioners for making this partnership a reality.”
Barnhart will also help the agency with updating the security manual and other safety items. Having a deputy on staff will also allow for added security for case workers and children services workers when they are out in the field.
While Barnhart will have a sheriff’s cruiser, there will be situations when he will be dressed in uniform and others when he will be dressed in civilian clothes. As Social Services Supervisor Terri Ingels noted, sometimes a uniform can intimidate children who are already scared.
Ingels also stated that many of the cases which children services handles are now drug related, something that a deputy will be able to help process.
Sheriff Keith Wood noted that is step by the agencies involved is a proactive approach instead of the reactive one that has to be taken in so many cases.
Barnhart has three years law enforcement experience and prior military service with the Army National Guard. He has also spent time as a youth pastor, and working in the schools as a teacher.
Barnhart is a graduate of Ohio Valley Christian School and attended Rio Grande and Hocking College. He and his wife reside in Pomeroy with their two children.