Jim Cegielski

Jim Cegielski

Last week, I went over the winners from the primary and runoff elections in August. Here are the losers.

Alex Hodge

He let his ego get in the way of common sense. ’Nuff said.

Maj. Jamie Tedford

Second in command, Tedford was the guy who was hands-on in running the sheriff’s department. He came to Jones County with a lot of baggage from a previous job and then added to it when he gave his approval when it was suggested that the JCSD plant drugs on Leader-Call employees. He should have been immediately fired for that lack of good judgment and it will most certainly keep him from being hired by whoever wins the sheriff’s race in November.

Out-of-county deputies Keith LeRoy and Jason Myers

These two mastered the art of taking cheap shots at their boss’ opponents on Facebook, with Myers going as far as to insult the people who paid his salary by posting, “You can’t sell a high quality product to folks with a low quality mindset.” If these two rocket scientists had paid attention to what Macon Davis and Joe Berlin had said about rehiring the current deputies, they would have had no problem keeping their jobs. Instead, if they haven’t already fled, they are most likely dead men walking.

Allyson Knotts

Allyson Knott’s isn’t a loser for anything she did at the sheriff’s department. Our problem with Knotts wasn’t her personally and we didn’t take personal shots at her other than possibly calling her “Kathy Lee.” Our problem wasn’t with Knotts at all. It was the position created by her boss, who complained constantly about needing more money and more deputies, yet he was the only sheriff in the area that had his own personal taxpayer-funded PR person.  

However, Knotts put herself on this list with her Aug. 27 election day post that reads, “I am praying that the people of my beloved home see through the lies and manipulation of a local print publication. I am praying that those who have believed that misleading agenda will see that they have become a pawn in some sinister game. I do believe there is an element of evil surrounding this county but I also believe that God will conquer evil.” SINISTER? EVIL? Because your boss didn’t win a fourth term for sheriff? Really? Not to mention that the only reason he didn’t win was because of his own actions. Get a grip!

Well, guess what, Allyson? This is my beloved home, too. I’ve lived in Jones County for 25 years — longer than I’ve lived anywhere else — and I chose to live here. I’ve been writing a column for that same amount of time. My two children were raised here. I coached youth sports for 18 years. I owned and operated a coffee shop in downtown Laurel for a decade. I started The ReView of Jones County 12 years ago and took over the Leader-Call seven years ago. And now I have a former disc jockey and some of her Hodge-loving supporters calling me and this newspaper “evil” because I wanted to defend the livelihood of my employees as well as the best interests of the majority of the people of Jones County against a politician with a superiority complex? I’m pretty sure a just God will think it’s pretty despicable to call someone evil simply because they don’t share the same opinions about a politician as you. You are no different than the people who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable for their actions isn’t evil. It’s the opposite of evil. Thankfully, most people in Jones County are of a high-quality mindset and get it.  

The Impact

Shoppers around the country, including the one out of Bay Springs, are advertising vehicles that focus mostly on classified ads. They throw in some press releases and other cheap and easy news to make it seem like you are getting more than just ads. I’m guessing that Kevin Williamson, who briefly tried his hand at real news at The Chronicle before being let go, was approached by Sheriff Hodge to act as his mouthpiece in the election in exchange for advertising. At least I hope it was in exchange for advertising, because what Williamson put out certainly didn’t qualify as journalism. Williamson wrote two large fluff pieces in which he repeated verbatim what Hodge told him, without questioning any of it, and then ran them on their tiny front page.

In the end, it didn’t make any IMPACT because smart people don’t go to a shopper for real news anyway.

Facebook

If there was a real loser in all of this, it was the “power” of social media. Hodge was a social media superstar, with his own show and constant Facebook posts. He truly believed that most people were getting their news directly from him over social media. He most certainly was addicted to it and spent countless hours on it. 

Facebook is where Alex preached to his minions and was told what he wanted to hear from them (that he was awesome). If you disagreed that he was awesome, he blocked you. As it turns out, the Facebook adoration was simply a mirage. In the end, the loud, obnoxious people who filled up the Facebook pages were overwhelmed by a silent majority who read their community newspaper and learned the actual truth about what is going on.

Corruption

Last, but certainly not least, corruption was dealt another blow in Jones County. No public official should be getting wealthy in a side business while getting paid for a full-time job by the taxpayers. The President of the United States isn’t allowed to do this, so why should the sheriff of Jones County? Selling dumpsters, porta-potties or ads for their own magazine is unethical and puts citizens in the uncomfortable position of not wanting to say “no” to someone who has the power to make their life miserable. This should never be allowed to happen again.  

Special treatment for the rich and powerful needs to stop as well. This county took a step in the right direction on Aug. 27 and, once again, we have proved that we, the people, truly can make a difference.

Let’s keep up the good fight, Jones County!

Jim Cegielski is publisher of the Leader-Call. He lives in Laurel.

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