Turnbough says PD contract ‘greatly affects him’

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/20

BELLE —Following scheduled discussions during a special board of aldermen meeting on Thursday, recently elected Belle Alderman Sundi Jo Graham asked Marshal Joe Turnbough how the Maries County …

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Turnbough says PD contract ‘greatly affects him’

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BELLE —Following scheduled discussions during a special board of aldermen meeting on Thursday, recently elected Belle Alderman Sundi Jo Graham asked Marshal Joe Turnbough how the Maries County Sheriff’s Department contract has affected his job.

At first, the marshal said he would rather not open that discussion, but Graham insisted.

“It affects me greatly,” Turnbough said.

Alderman Jeanette Struemph said the board takes calls from so many community members who complain that the marshal still holds his position but they don’t see him.

“I don’t want to open this can of worms,” Turnbough said.

Turnbough said he felt that serving the community was an honor.

“It was in the paper that I worked at the hospital full-time, and I was working there part-time,” he said. “I got a lot of free stuff that was going to be a good deal, but we shut down the department. I asked to put a tax on the ballot. I don’t even think I would have had to campaign for it, I think the people would have passed it.”

He said since he has been the marshal in the community for six years, the city has asked the public to allow them to appoint a marshal three times.

“When I got elected, the city was so mad they wouldn’t buy me a uniform, and then I got re-elected and they shut down the police department,” Turnbough said.

Alderman Tony Gieck said the city didn’t decline to pay for his uniform. Turnbough said he went to their uniform provider before he was sworn in and asked to order a uniform and the company said they couldn’t do it without the city’s approval.

Turnbough also said he has a difference in opinion from others about how the department should be run. Some, like Maries County deputies, are more aggressive. He likes to give people more chances.

“It’s just a difference in opinions, but it still falls back on me,” Turnbough said. “I’m the one that got elected.”

He said the problem with closing the Belle police department also affects him financially.

“I bought a house and we shut (the department) down,” Turnbough said. “My problem is this. I can work full-time until my last day, but I can’t collect on unemployment.”

Turnbough said the day the city signed the contract with Maries County, Phelps Health offered him a full-time position. He told the board that he has been elected, re-elected, and received full accommodations at the hospital since he has been there.

“I miss being here all day,” he said. “If you want to sign a contract tomorrow saying you won’t touch my salary unless you are giving me a raise, I’ll come back.”

Turnbough will receive his full salary of a little under $36,000, which was determined prior to his re-election in 2018, through the remainder of his 2022 term.

He said he has been able to assist Maries County deputies when they have situations at night or when they leave town to transport someone.

“I work second shift at the hospital and am working at the city at night. I love my job. I miss it, but my house payment isn’t going to go away,” Turnbough said. “What good is it going to do if we are going to sit here and fight and argue?”

Graham asked Turnbough if he felt that he was giving enough time to the city, doing everything they needed him to do if he is working full-time at the hospital?

“I feel like it is a guaranteed salary,” Turnbough said. “I can’t draw unemployment. I don’t like it or the picture it paints.”

Struemph asked Turnbough if he could communicate with them “a little more.”

“We have to answer to this town,” she said.

Graham asked if he could provide them with a schedule for when the marshal is on duty.

“I am on call from 11 p.m. until the morning officer comes on duty,” Turnbough said. “The deputies are aggressive about making arrests.”

He said if only one deputy is in town and makes an arrest, then there is no one in town to cover calls while that deputy is on a prisoner transport.

“They can transport over to Maries County and I am left here,” Turnbough said.

Turnbough’s wife Debbie Turnbough said she is going to start recording his callouts. Graham said a call log would not be a bad idea.

“We want something to present to the city of Belle,” Struemph added.

Turnbough said he told the hospital officials when he was hired that he is still the marshal and may have to leave his shift to assist the city.

“Believe it or not, I work Monday through Friday and they give me Tuesdays off for the council meeting and hopefully Tuesdays for court,” Turnbough said. “I can turn in a log for you guys, but I will not give you names. I don’t want that publicized.”

Owner of Connor’s Country Lodge Terry Connors asked Turnbough if he patrols or if he is just on call from 11 p.m. until the morning shift. Turnbough said he patrols. Connors asked how many hours a week Turnbough patrols.

“It varies,” Turnbough said.

After completing the discussion, Turnbough and his wife left the meeting. Turnbough later returned to thank Gieck for the opportunity to discuss his side of the story with the board.

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