Following drug arrests, Community Services Program under review by Sullivan Co. mayor

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Sullivan County leaders are considering making changes to a community services program.

It comes after law enforcement arrested three people for illegal drug activity while they were supposed to be performing community service at the Sullivan County Transfer Station.

Two of the people investigators charged were Sullivan County employees.

The Community Services Program is run by the county, meaning tax dollars fund the operation. It allows people who could be serving jail time to instead put in community service.

“What we found out were out of 12 people, 7 tested positive for drugs, illegal drugs,” said District Attorney General Barry Staubus. “We have an investigation pending against two other county employees who were supervisors.”

“I was disappointed, obviously, that we had people that, especially county employees, who we had put our trust in,” said Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable.

Mayor Venable said the County is now reviewing the Community Services Program.

“I think we’re going to have to look in detail at what our procedures are now, who is put in the program, and the purpose, and treat those all as individuals,” Mayor Venable said.

Venable said he plans to hold a meeting with other officials, including District Attorney General Barry Staubus, Sheriff Wayne Anderson and judges, to map out what is best for the county and the future of the program.

“I think that there needs to be a different direction that it needs to go in, and I think there needs to be law enforcement involved in the program,” Staubus said.

Venable, too, agrees the county needs to make changes, but he is remaining an advocate.

“I would fight for the program, not particularly where it is now, we’ll determine that later, but I would fight to continue the program,” Venable said.

Mayor Venable said the meeting is not set up yet, but he expects to hold it within the next 10 days.

Previous story: Sullivan County Transfer Station employees allegedly sold, used illegal drugs on the clock

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