County Administrator Will Hooker announced at Monday's board meeting that the department received more than $55,000 of federal funds from United States Rural Development.
Williams will use the money to acquire four new cars that are badly needed for his aging fleet. The sheriff has consistently expressed a need for upgrades because many of his vehicles are running at high mileage.
"I really need to give credit to the county administrator and the board for working with us to bring in the money," said Williams. "We have a dire need for cars and we're very behind as far as vehicles are concerned."
Williams said maintenance costs on the older cars are starting to rack up big bills, and some deputies are now sharing vehicles after changing shifts due to the shortage.
"Some of the cars are running for 24 hours straight, which really adds to the wear-and-tear," Williams said. "The new ones should also be more fuel-efficient and help us save quite a bit on gas."
The retired vehicles will either be used for parts or auctioned off depending on needs.
The funding comes at a 60/40 split, meaning the county will be putting in over $40,000 of its own money to offset costs.
"We definitely have to thank Rural Development," said Hooker. "Really, this is all about offsetting costs for our citizens and taxpayers. We know that money is tight for everyone, so we're very fortunate to receive the grant.
"Thanks to Rural Development, the new cars should help keep Bolivar County on top again."
Williams added that the vehicle shortage is intensified due to Bolivar County being the second largest county in the state.
“If we had all the resources we needed, we’d feel better about things,” Williams said in a previous Bolivar Commercial story. “Unfortunately, I don’t have a blank check.”
One of his long-term goals is to divide the county into four sections and have two deputies monitoring each area at all times.
“This would increase our patrol and our visibility,” said Williams. “It would also reduce crime across the county.”
Along with the demand for more cars, Williams said he would also need to double his current staff size to efficiently cover his proposed sections.
For now, obtaining the vehicles is a big step in the right direction.
“It's good to know that the grant money is a reality now and we'll have better cars soon," Williams said. "The solution to our lack of resources is to work with the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors and find out what areas they can further assist us in.”