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Commissioners eye Watson for position on the jail trust

By August 7, 2023No Comments

In a surprising move, the board of county commissioners has on its agenda Monday the removal of McCurtain County Jail Trust member Heather Carter and the appointment to her spot of Lonnie Watson, who is retired from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and now a school teacher.
He has also been a critic of the sheriff’s department and is chairperson/spokesman for McCurtain County Movement 2023.
In a statement appearing in today’s paper from John Williams, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, Williams said Carter and sheriff Kevin Clardy, who is also chairman of the jail trust, came to the commissioners’ office and tried to seize all jail trust records.
Carter had recently transferred from being commissioners’ assistant to working for the sheriff’s department.
Watson said he is checking with school officials to see if serving on the jail trust would conflict time-wise with his school job, and he also is checking to see if it would raise conflict of interest issues with his position on McCurtain County Movement 2023.
But whatever, the case, even his possible appointment shows a sharp change in the relationship between the Board of County Commissioners and the sheriff’s department.
Watson said he did not ask to be on the jail trust and that Williams asked him if he would serve.
His background would seem to be almost ideal for such a position.
Watson worked 22 years for the Oklahoma Departments of Corrections before retiring a few years ago, getting his Bachelor’s Degree in liberal arts and applied studies, for the past three years instructing at Idabel Middle School and coaching.
Watson started his DOC career as a guard at McAlester, later working at the McLeod Correction and finally returning home to work at the Idabel Inmate Work Center until it closed.
He was promoted after that, and served his last years as Unit Manager at Hodgen (Jim Hamilton Correctional Center).
In recent months, Watson has asked many questions about conditions at the county jail and suggested that the jail trust make regular inspections of the facility.