LIMA — A veteran lawman served as the interim Allen County sheriff for one short week before his unexpected death was the posthumous recipient Friday of the Allen County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award.
The award has been presented for more than a quarter century by the bar association to individuals who “promote a better understanding of the rule of law, encourage a greater respect for the law and the courts, stimulate a sense of civic responsibility and contribute to good government in the community,” according to award criteria.
This year the Liberty Bell was presented to the widow of James Everett. Everett took over the reins of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office following the resignation of former Sheriff Sam Crish, who officially left office on Jan. 31, 2016, following an FBI raid at his office that has yet to be explained by the federal agency.
Chief deputy at the time, Everett took over the role of interim sheriff but died less than a week later. Matt Treglia, who during Friday’s bar association gathering described Everett as a mentor and close friend, took over as sheriff upon Everett’s death and was appointed by the county Republican Party to fill the remainder of the unexpired term.
Pam Everett, the late lawman’s widow, accepted the award on behalf of her husband. Lima Law Director Tony Geiger introduced Treglia, who in turn called Pam Everett to come forward.
She said most people in Allen County knew her husband simply as a public figure.
“But what they did not know was that he prayed every night for his family, his grandchildren, the members of his department and the community as a whole. I miss that time each night when we prayed together, and he would pray for the community,” she said.
Two Lima high school seniors were announced at the bar association meeting as this year’s recipients of $2,500 college scholarships as winners of the association’s annual essay competition.
Doug Daley, president of the Allen County Bar Association, said 27 students submitted entries in the competition, in which applicants were asked to write on if colleges should be permitted to expel a student for opinions expressed on social medial platforms.
Winners of the scholarship were Lima Senior High School senior Briana Joi Wright and Lima Central Catholic senior Jordan Hinegardner Hendricks. The students voiced drastically different views about the subject matter.
Wright said colleges should be able to expel or reprimand students for “radical views or offensive remarks,” especially if they had signed — and then violated — a student code of conduct contract. Wright said such contracts “should be executed” by universities with all students.
Hendricks said the constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech trumps the desire of a state-supported university to protect its reputation.
“The right of free speech should be respected without fear of reprisal from the government. I believe public universities should not be permitted to expel students for their speech on social media. With this country more polarized than ever, college students must be allowed to freely debate ideas,” Hendricks wrote.