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McPherson County Sheriff says goodbye

October 2, 2018

McPherson County Sheriff Tim McConnell thought he would work, live and retire at his current job, working in the Sandhills county that includes Tryon.

But in recent months, McConnell, who is almost 50, wasn’t feeling well. He learned that he had an 80 percent blockage of the main artery on the front of his heart, and he had to have a stent installed. When he still felt under the weather later, he learned that there was blockage on the artery on the back of his heart as well.

The full-time sheriff, who also acts as the McPherson County emergency manager and has one part-time deputy, said he received the same message from his family doctor and cardiologist at Great Plains Health: “You can’t be doing the one-man-show thing anymore.”

McConnell will leave his post as McPherson County sheriff, where he started as interim sheriff in 2013.

“My last patrol’s going to be Halloween night,” he said.

He said he requested full-time help, he said, but McPherson County commissioners declined.

He always believed he would eventually face heart problems — his dad died from a heart attack at age 43.

“I was hoping I’d be closer to 80,” McConnell said.

In McPherson County, no one has filed to run for sheriff in the November election, which they can still do as a write-in candidate, said County Clerk Judy Dailey. If no one does, then the county commissioners will appoint a new sheriff in January. They will appoint an interim sheriff until then, she said.

McConnell doesn’t plan to leave law enforcement. He’s moving to Wisner, population 1,174, to become its police chief. He already knows he’ll have one full-time officer, he said. When he arrives, he’ll be tasked with hiring a second.

The shift from county to city will have its changes.

“I doubt I’ll be directing as much traffic for cows on the highway there as I am now,” he said.

Working for the city will also mean serving no civil papers and instead enforcing city ordinances.

McConnell said his grandfather was a past Dawson County sheriff, and his mother was a jail nurse. He began ride-alongs at age 13. He jokes that when he took a jail job in 2003 was when “I started getting paid” for his law enforcement work.

Becoming sheriff, he said, was always the goal.

“It didn’t really matter the size of the department,” he said.

McConnell loved his work with the residents, county attorneys and neighboring counties’ sheriffs, who cross-deputized for each other when they needed help.

McConnell said he’s spent his time preparing to leave for Wisner trying to make McPherson County a better place for whoever becomes sheriff. Before he leaves, Tryon’s lone tornado siren will be able to be set off remotely by Keith County’s dispatch. Before, the sheriff or fire chief had to drive from their homes miles away to manually turn it on if there was a tornado warning, McConnell said.

“I’d like to think I left some sort of impact on the community,” he said.

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