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Incumbent faces 2 challengers in sheriff's race

May 06, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

In his bid for a fourth four-year term, Franklin County Sheriff Robert B. Wollyung faces two challengers in the May 20 Republican primary, including a former deputy from his office and a Pennsylvania state constable with prior experience as a deputy sheriff in Florida.

Wollyung, 63, will square off in the primary against former deputy Dane Anthony, 43, and Peters Township Constable Roger A. Blattenberger, 58. No Democrats filed to run in the primary for the office, which has a salary of $50,025 this year.

"He's continually asking for more manpower to cover his existing functions," Blattenberger said of Wollyung. "It's simply a matter of management, and at this time, I feel I'm better qualified."

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Blattenberger, of 4334 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, Pa., retired from the Navy with the rank of master chief in 1985 after 23 years of service. From 1969 to 1976 and from 1982 to 1985, he also served as a deputy sheriff in Orlando, Fla., and has been a constable in Peters Township since 1994.

In addition to courthouse security, and warrant and civil process service, the Sheriff's Office also is responsible for security at the courthouse and other county government buildings.

"Security is still a big concern. There are currently steps being taken to improve that," said Wollyung, who serves on a number of security-related committees within county government.

In recent years, his office has installed metal detectors at both the courthouse and the administrative annex, and a security detail now makes the rounds of other buildings, according to Wollyung, of 725 Stouffer Ave., Chambersburg.

The office has a staff of 15 deputies, 11 of them full-time, but Wollyung said the workload during his years in office has tripled, while personnel has increased 55 percent.

"Making sure there is adequate manpower to do the job" is among his goals, along with continuing the computerization of the office.

If elected, Blattenberger said he would look at privatizing some of the deputies' current duties to ease the burden on the staff. That could include routine checks of people entering county buildings, but not such duties as prisoner transportation and courtroom security.

"You still need trained people up there," he said of the courtrooms.

"Background checks need to be done on personnel being hired," said Anthony, of 517 Siloam Road, Chambersburg. "There should be random drug testing on deputies."

"There's been a rapid turnover in personnel," which he said is due to a combination of factors, among them outdated equipment. "Everything from radios to mace to bulletproof vests" need to be purchased or replaced, he said.

"They need to have policies and they need the policies enforced," Anthony said of the deputies.

Anthony spent more than 15 years as a deputy before leaving the job last year for a position with the county's Juvenile Probation Department. Anthony left county service to campaign for the sheriff's position and currently works for a construction company. Prior to his county service, he played professional baseball for eight years.

"The key to any successful operation is good leadership," Anthony said. "If I'm elected, I would just be sheriff. I'll be another deputy. I'll be working with them."

"Although it's not a requirement to be a law enforcement officer to run for this office, it's a help," Wollyung said of his background. After four years in the Navy, he spent 29 years with the Pennsylvania State Police, 27 of them stationed in Franklin County.

He was elected to his first term in 1991 and was president of the Pennsylvania Sheriff's Association in 2001-02.

"I still feel I have something to contribute. My experience is something I don't want to waste," he said. "I think I've been a good steward of the taxpayers' money."

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