Family fun at 27th annual Chambers County Sheriff’s Rodeo

Published 9:30 am Friday, March 31, 2023

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WEST POINT — The Chambers County Sheriff’s Rodeo is in its 27th year in 2023. This year’s fundraiser for the sheriff’s office will be getting under way at 8 p.m. EDT this evening at the rodeo arena in LaFayette. A second session will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Major T.J. Wood, the public information officer for the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, talked about this year’s rodeo at Thursday’s noon hour meeting of the West Point Rotary Club.

Wood told members of the club the main point he wants to get out there right now is that the current water restrictions in LaFayette will not be a problem for the rodeo. “We will have porta potties and hand-washing dispensers in place,The rodeo is still on,” he said.

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Bar W, a well-known rodeo-related company, will be providing all the animals for the event, and all the cowboys and cowgirls who will be riding in the Sheriff’s Rodeo will be competing for points in several different rodeo associations. The weather forecast is promising, and everyone coming out should be treated to some exciting rodeo action.

“We think this year’s rodeo could be one of the biggest ever,” Wood said. “We had our first rodeo at what’s now The Oaks in LaFayette. They later moved to our Rodeo Arena between US 431 and Highway 77.”

Wood credited the former sheriff, Sid Lockhart, on having done great work in promoting the rodeo every year. “I’m so glad our new sheriff, Jeff Nelson, will keep it going. This annual rodeo is absolutely the best way to fill in gaps with our budget. It costs our sheriff’s office $1,000 to fully equip a new deputy in a uniform. The rodeo helps us do that and to have our patrol cars fully equipped.”

A new patrol car that’s fully equipped with lights, sirens, computers, wi-fi, a cage, etc. will cost at least $60,000.

“For the last several years we have had to work through the supply chain shortages resulting from the Covid pandemic,” Wood said. “It takes longer to get cars that have been ordered, and it costs more, too.”

Wood said he liked it that Sheriff Nelson was seeking input from the deputies on needs that can be met with this year’s proceeds from the rodeo.

“The rodeo is always g00d, clean family fun,” Wood said, “and it will be in a place that will be easy to find.”

Easy-to-read signs will be leading the way from downtown LaFayette to the site.

Sponsors for this year’s rodeo include Trenter Bonding Company, Chris Clark Paving & Grading, Givorns/Mr. Ice, NCIC Inmate Communications, Royal Beverage, King Ram, Teague Inc., The Powder Keg, Terrence Brown Attorney at Law, Shady Side Farm and West Frazer (Norbord).

Wood said the transition between Sheriff Lockhart and Sheriff Nelson had been a smooth one thus far. “There’s always change with a new administration,” he said. “Nothing Sid had been doing was wrong, but Sheriff Nelson has brought in some new ideas that have been very helpful. He’s retired from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). The kind of experience he has and the law enforcement connections he has made have been very helpful.”

Wood said that the new sheriff is very good at seeing the strengths any deputy has and assigning that deputy in a way that can utilize what they are good at. Wood, for example, was a patrol commander under Sheriff Lockhart. He did that job very well, but Nelson noticed his exceptional skills as a people person, exactly the kind of person suited for a public information officer.

“I just love being around people,” Wood said. “This new position is ideal for me.”

Serve and protect and two words always associated with good law enforcement. Wood believes those two words are interconnected. “If you are serving, you will be there protecting when you are needed,” he said.

Wood has been trained in teaching women’s self defense courses but was reluctant to be involved in it until he became familiar with the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Systems of Self Defense. He thinks it’s something every woman should know. He also believes that women should know how to defend themselves with a firearm if they ever need to.

“I’m always telling men if they think they can teach their wife how to shoot they are wrong,” he said. “A certified instructor needs to do it for you. Don’t pick out a gun for her. Take her to a firing range and have an instructor get her to hold several different kinds of guns. She needs to have a gun she is comfortable with and has fired before. There may be just one time in her life when she will need to know how to handle a gun. She needs to be properly equipped and trained if that moment ever arises.”

Alabama is now a constitutional carry state. This means an individual can carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a permit. Wood said that permits are required in other states and that it’s best to know that if traveling to such states. Gun permits are still being issued by sheriff’s offices in Alabama. It might be wise to have one when traveling to other states.