State trooper chosen as next Columbia County sheriff

Rocky Miller will take over for Sheriff Walt Hessler, who is retiring June 30.

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DAYTON — Columbia County commissioners unanimously selected Rocky Miller to serve as the county's sheriff beginning July 1. Miller will fill the position vacated by current sheriff Walt Hessler, who is retiring June 30, and will serve out the rest of Hessler's elected term.

The commissioners held a special meeting Thursday evening in the Columbia County Courtroom to publicly interview Miller, who is a state trooper, as well as the other candidate, Jeffery Jenkins, a sheriff's deputy.

Commissioner Mike Talbott said the board believed both candidates were well-qualified, and selected Miller because they wanted an outside perspective on the department. He also cited Miller's experience as a teacher, and said he hoped Miller would be able to use his experience on state patrol to his advantage.

During his interview, Miller identified drugs as the most serious problem facing Columbia County, and he said he hoped to establish a citizen's advisory board to help guide decision-making. He also hopes to study evidence-collecting systems in neighboring counties to help him learn how Columbia County might improve its practices.

Over 100 community members were present at the meeting, filling every bench in the room. The public was given an opportunity to make statements prior to candidate interviews, but nobody elected to speak.

Miller said he was excited to work as county sheriff.

"This will allow me to be a mentor, to share some of what I've learned on state patrol," he said.

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