Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle defends use of barriers for Christmas parade

CSRA News

Columbia County’s Christmas parade set for Sunday.

But, the view for patrons will be a bit different this year.

“I thought, ‘What in the world is that for,'” said Columbia County Resident Sandy Barter.

Barter is talking about the barriers the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is lining up along South Belair Road.

It’s a new safety measure for the upcoming Christmas Parade.

Barter isn’t a fan.

“I’m just wondering, my goodness as a resident, how much is that going to cost and wouldn’t it be a better idea as a parent, and grandparent, to hold on to the child’s hand and tell them not to run out into the street,” said Barter.

Some are even taking to Facebook to show disapproval with comments like, “This is completely stupid. What a waste of money.”

We took those comments and questions to the person behind the decision- Sheriff Clay Whittle.

“I really wish some of the people who were saying things would first check and get their facts right,” said Whittle.

Whittle says he witnessed first hand, last year, why these barriers are necessary.

“That kid zoned in on that piece of candy and he wanted that candy. He darted out into the road and the guy had to hit the breaks. Now, he wasn’t going fast but there ended up a separation of near feet between the front tire of that heavy truck and that child,” explained Whittle.

“I think if it’s a safety issue, we should all appreciate that,” said one Columbia County resident.

“I would think the sheriff would know the right thing to do,” said another Columbia County resident we spoke with.

Whittle says the money to pay for the barricades comes from confiscated money, not taxpayer dollars.

In the end, the sheriff says safety comes first.

“I can’t bring a child back. I can not bring a child back and like my Assistant US Attorney said a few days ago, I’m not going to stand before my maker and explain why I saw a problem and did nothing about it. I simply won’t do that,” said Whittle.

County leaders say they’re backing the sheriff on this one.

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