Would Eastwood like a job in Ohio?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Where in the world is Clint Eastwood when our neighbors need him? The quintessential Hollywood actor always seemed to be able to handle impossible tasks, even if it was only in silver screen make-believe.

Beginning last weekend, the good folks of Meigs County, two counties to our north on the Ohio River, certainly face an impossible task worthy of calling in Eastwood.

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Budget cuts have forced the county of approximately 23,000 residents back into the old days of America's wild, wild West.

At 12:01 on Saturday county funds dried up like a saddle in the desert. The result was the Meigs County Sheriff's Office had to cut its staff - significantly.

In one day's time, the office went from having 14 deputies and dispatchers to having one employee - Sheriff Ralph Trussell.

That's correct, one lone man to help maintain order and uphold the law in 429 square miles of county territory.

No, it isn't the plot in one of Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns; this is real life.

While the situation in Meigs County is a bit extreme, it illustrates clearly just how cash-strapped government budgets are statewide, and it shows an example of how drastic services may be cut in an effort to stop the fiscal bleeding.

Unfortunately, law enforcement is not the kind of government fat that needs to be trimmed away - certainly not with the meat cleaver the folks in Meigs County wielded. Cutting law enforcement services to the bone threatens public safety and may give citizens the feeling that they should take the law into their own hands. That could be disastrous.

Here in Lawrence County, we are much more lucky. We have not had to radically amputate parts of our government services, but we should keep constant watch so that we do not wind up there. Remember the old phrase, "There, but by the grace of God, go I?"

Budget woes may get worse before they get better, on both state and local levels. Perhaps, collectively we can convince Eastwood to relocate to Ohio so he can handle the impossible tasks ahead.