WATERLOO - Inmate work crews and new hours at the office window indicate there's a new sheriff in town.
Tony Thompson, a deputy for 15 years, takes office today in Black Hawk County, replacing Sheriff Mike Kubik, who retired after five terms.
Since winning the November election, Thompson has seen little of his patrol duties and has been preparing to make the transition to the office's top slot and for the upcoming budget process.
He acknowledges some assistance he has gotten.
"Mike has been great helping me," Thompson said. "The two captains have been wonderful."
One of his campaign promises, putting more inmates to work, starts this month. He said passers-by will notice crews shoveling snow and chipping ice around the jail and courthouse. Future assignments include yard maintenance and cleanup of roadside ditches.
The business window at the sheriff's office also will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with applications for weapons permits available each day. The sheriff's office scaled back business hours and limited days when firearms permits were available in 2005 because of budget concerns.
Thompson said the office will be able to staff the additional hours with the help of volunteers and unpaid college interns.
Inmates at the jail will notice some additional costs. Starting today, people coming to jail to serve time for convictions must pay a $25 booking fee.
Thompson said this will be particularly costly for people who opt to break up their sentences to serve on weekends. Each time they are booked in for a weekend stay will mean another $25 fee.
"Right now we incur the cost of them coming in every weekend," Thompson said.
Permits to purchase handguns and carry firearms also will go up from $5 to $10.
Along with preparing for his upcoming duties, Thompson already has made one promotion.
Rick Abben, formerly a patrol sergeant, became a captain and has been designated "first deputy." The designation, also known as chief deputy, hasn't been used since 2001 when the previous officer retired.
Abben's promotion brings to three the number of captains in the sheriff's office. The new slot will take the patrol unit from one of the existing captains and investigations unit from the other to create the field services division.
"I'm coming from the worker bee side of the house. We need a little more structure than we have now," Thompson said.
Capt. Mark Johnson will continue to head the jail division, and Capt. Reid Corson will oversee the special services division.
During the upcoming budget process, Thompson plans to seek an additional patrol deputy. He also wants to increase the contract for jail medical coverage to have a health professional at the facility around the clock.
Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or email@example.com.