|Alleghany Co. Sheriff's Office Celebrates 200th Anniversary|
Covington, VA (July 28, 2022) - In conjunction with the countyâ€™s bicentennial, the Alleghany County Sheriffâ€™s Office is also celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2022.
Kevin Hall, Alleghany Countyâ€™s 40th sheriff, oversees a staff of about 80 that includes 60 officers along with support staff which not only provides law enforcement for the county but also oversees operations at the Alleghany Regional Jail and provides courthouse security. Now serving his fourth term, Hall is second only to Max Swoope as the longest tenured sheriff in the history of Alleghany County.
In recognition of this milestone, members of the Alleghany County Sheriffâ€™s Office are wearing commemorative badges in 2022 to celebrate the countyâ€™s 200th anniversary. These badges were funded earlier this year by an appropriation from the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors. Hall said an open house at the Alleghany Regional Jail is under consideration and may be held sometime in August.
â€śThe sheriffâ€™s office and the sheriff have really spearheaded the 200-year anniversary of Alleghany County,â€ť said Matt Garten, chairman of the board of supervisors. â€śWe recognize the length of service and dedication of the sheriffâ€™s office throughout the years. We couldnâ€™t be happier as a community to get to this point.â€ť
Alleghany County in 2022 is vastly different than the county William Herbert patrolled as the countyâ€™s first sheriff back in 1822. Newly formed from portions of Botetourt, Bath and Monroe County, then a part of Virginia, imagine Herbert serving the countyâ€™s 449 square miles with a much smaller staff, travelling on horseback or in a wagon on a primitive road system with few bridges. Add in sweltering heat and insects of summer or the bitter cold and knee-deep snows of winter, and one can surmise that serving as sheriff was no easy task.
â€śIt had to be pretty rough back in those days,â€ť Hall said. â€śIt was probably like the wild, wild west. If he had one deputy, he was probably lucky.â€ť
Since jails and courthouses were far apart in those early days, a relay jail was operated in southern Alleghany County, about 18 miles south of Covington on Potts Creek. The jail is believed to have been built by Charles Dew in 1801.
â€śIf you needed help, you had to deputize or form a posse,â€ť Hall said. â€śEverybody was carrying guns back in those days, so if you werenâ€™t a good shot, you probably werenâ€™t going to make it very long. You had to be physically tough, able to handle yourself with your hands and probably a firearm.â€ť
Even with those skills, the job could be dangerous. Hall paused a moment to reflect on two county officers who have been killed in the line of duty over the last 200 years. Sheriff E.B. Butler, who also served two terms as Covington mayor, was shot by a moonshiner in Dolly Ann Hollow on Aug. 9, 1922 and died three days later. Deputy Sheriff Samuel A. Brown, 60, was also killed in a gunfight on July 8, 1927. Both are remembered in a display at the Alleghany Regional Jail.
The 56-bed Alleghany Regional Jail opened in 2002 and serves Covington, Alleghany County, Clifton Forge, Iron Gate and Bath County. Hall said an agreement that predates the construction of the jail by about 50 years has well served the citizens of Alleghany County and Covington.
â€śI think one of the smartest moves the citizens of Covington and Alleghany County ever made was a 1953 agreement that combined the services of the county and city into one combined sheriffâ€™s office and commonwealthâ€™s attorney, so there wasnâ€™t a duplication of services,â€ť he said. â€śIt was based on population that was about 50/50 at the time. It saved the taxpayers of both localities a lot of money over the years.â€ť
In recent years, the Alleghany Regional Jail has reached its capacity, and prisoners have been outsourced. Hall said a partnership with Rockbridge County is under evaluation that would expand jail capacity in the future.
â€śWeâ€™re looking at the cost,â€ť Hall said. â€śThe overcrowding of the facility and the restrictions placed upon us by the Virginia Department of Corrections are important factors to consider.â€ť
Itâ€™s ironic and somewhat fitting that Hall is the first sheriff from Alleghany County to serve as the president of the Virginia Sheriffsâ€™ Association. He was elected to that post in September of 2021 and will serve through September of this year, representing over 9,000 members and 123 sheriffs throughout the commonwealth.
â€śItâ€™s been an honor and a humbling experience,â€ť said Hall, who additionally serves on the National Sheriffsâ€™ Association animal cruelty, domestic violence and crime victim services committees. He also serves as vice chairman of the Virginia E-911 Board.
Hall said law enforcement has been closely scrutinized in recent years, but he was pleased with the work of Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly in 2022.
â€śWe had a very good session earlier this year under Gov. Youngkin and look forward to many more positive things in the future,â€ť Hall said. â€śItâ€™s very rewarding to see the Virginia governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and public safety secretary working on behalf of public safety. We really got a lot of support out of Richmond for law enforcement.â€ť
Prior to serving as the sheriff of Alleghany County, Hall worked for 22 years with the Covington City Police Department. A 1982 graduate of Alleghany County High School, Hall attended Ferrum College and graduated from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in 1989 with an associateâ€™s degree in administration of justice.
â€śItâ€™s been an incredible experience to serve the citizens of Alleghany County and Covington, â€ś he said. â€śI have a great staff that makes the job so enjoyable. I appreciate their service, their dedication and their sacrifices.â€ť
Garten also expressed his gratitude to Sheriff Hall and his staff. â€śI recognize all of the members of the sheriffâ€™s office who have given their time, their commitment and their time away from home to be there, support the community and keep the community safe.â€ť
Hereâ€™s a look back at all the sheriffs who have served Alleghany County since 1822 and their years of service: William Herbert (1822-1823), John Holloway (1824-1825), Robert Kincaid (1826-1827), Michael Arritt (1828-1829), John Davis (1830-1832), John Allen (1832), James Kayser (1833), John Callaghan (1834-1835), W.H. Mann (1836-1837), John Persinger (1838-1840), Stephen Hook (1840-1841), Sampson Sawyer (1842).
Isaac Stull (1842-1844), Charles Callaghan (1844-1845), John Arritt (1846-1848), Isaac Stull (1848-1850), John L. Boswell (1851), James S. Montague (1852-1856), John D. Sadler (1858-1860), John I. Stuck (1860-1865), John R. Pharr (1866-1869), C.A. Brockmyer (1869-1870), William M. Rose (1870-1882), William Helmintoller (1882-1887).
Samuel Byer (1887-1895), K.M. Forner (1895-1904), Andrew C. Sizer (1905-1920), Edwin B. Butler (1920-1922), Robert E. Dyche (1922-1927), L.W. Hepler (1928-1935), R.A. Caldwell (1936-1939), J.W. Meeks (1940-1947), W.P. Henderson (1948-1951), Emory P. Thompson (1952-1959), Max W. Swoope (1960-1980), Leon P. Smith (1980-1988), Thomas D. Warlitner (1988-1994), Charles E. Simpson Jr. (1994-2003), Dale Muterspaugh (2004-2007), Kevin Hall (2007-present).