There’s a new sheriff in town

January 27, 2019

MADISON — Todd Volk isn’t necessarily looking to upend the status quo in his new position.

The new Madison County sheriff took office earlier this month, replacing Vern Hjorth, who held the office for 36 years before retiring.

A change in leadership after such a long tenure could mean an entirely different way of how the sheriff’s office is run, but Volk said he already had a good foundation from which to begin.

“I have had numerous people come in and talk to me. I’ve been listening to them over the course of the fall before coming in here and taking office,” Volk said.

Most of those conversations were about little things that needed adjustment or setting of standards.

“And just coming from being under Vern Hjorth, the standards are set pretty high. There’s not a whole lot that we have to try to get higher on,” Volk said.

But that’s not to say everything in the sheriff’s office will remain exactly the same or that he doesn’t have his own goals.

While he plans to refrain from “messing with” the greatest part, or base, of the sheriff’s office structure, Volk is working on improvements in order to serve the citizens of Madison County as best he can, he said.

“One of the short-term goals is just going to be to reunify through this transition. ... Since the election, everybody’s had questions, and we’re trying to answer them properly,” Volk said.

He is working closely with his new chief deputy, Joe Prather. The son of Hjorth’s chief deputy — Mike Prather — had worked as a deputy in Madison County for a number of years before moving to Otoe County to work as a deputy and recently moving back.

As for long-term goals, Volk said improvement of radio systems throughout the county is paramount.

“It’s to be able to better work and serve with the fire departments and rescue units even more. That, unfortunately, is an ongoing thing across the state with law enforcement and rescue in general — to make sure our radios keep working,” Volk said.

There may also be an expansion of the jail at some point in time, a topic which was discussed at length during the last election season.

“But, basically, goals are to keep improving, maintaining what we have fiscally and remaining conscious of that and just staying ahead in technology so we’re able to serve,” he said.

The other men who ran against Volk for sheriff have also served for decades as Madison County law enforcement officers, and continue to do so.

There is no bad blood that came from the election, Volk said.

“I think it has been good. The election was pretty much finalized in May, and we’ve all had months to get used to it. We’re just doing our jobs, and we’re working the best we can to make sure our service is proper and we’re running this office as officially as we can,” he said.

Volk added that he, and everyone at the sheriff’s office, will continue to work hard to serve the county.

“If anybody has any complaints or something is happening in their part of the county, they need to call and tell us about it, or we don’t know about it,” he said. “Anybody who is willing to come in, I’ll talk with them and listen to what their issues are, so I can make sure we keep Madison County safe and prosperous.”

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