Sheriff Jordan turns around Winn department

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

The current Sheriff Cranford Jordan of Winn Parish took over a scandal riddled, financially busted office and has turned it around in rather short order.

"When I was appointed Sheriff of Winn Parish to replace the Sheriff who had been forced to resign, we had all kind of financial problems," Sheriff Cranford Jordan explained to the Piney Woods Journal. "I was elected Sheriff in November but was not slated to be sworn into office until the next July. However, I was sworn into office in March to take the place of the then elected Sheriff."

"The first two years were rough. I only drew half my allotted salary as Sheriff until I could get things turned around financially in the parish.

Since I was first elected Sheriff five years ago, the voters of Winn Parish have done two historical things. They re-elected me to office without opposition which was a first for the parish. Secondly, they authorized us to build a new stand-alone jail, another first for the parish."

"When I first took office, we had to get uniforms from St. John the Baptist Parish," Sheriff Jordan pointed out. "Everyone hated the black uniforms. We were finally able to get our present day uniforms which go much better in the piney woods of the parish. I represent another first for Winn Parish in that I wear a uniform as the sheriff; none of my predecessors wore uniforms every day."

"We were able to get used cars from Sabine Parish. We had to cannibalize our old cars to keep our new used cars running. It was really tough back in those first couple years of being Sheriff. I was only drew half the pay that I was entitled too based on the salaries for Sheriff's in the state that were set by the legislature."

"We have made a great effort to cut out waste during my term in office. For instance, we found a way to cut our meal cost for the inmates down to less than $2.00 a day. The inmates are the cooks, kitchen help and servers. We don't have any fried food in our jail house meals. We concentrate on good healthy meals with a lot of vegetables. We also bake our own bread."

"We have an average of 25 state inmates housed in our old dilapidated jail on the top floor of the courthouse. Today, we have 20 I think" Sheriff Jordan stated. "Our courthouse was built 55 years ago. The jailhouse bars are rusty and it is a huge job to keep the plumbing system working."

"I really wanted to be sheriff when I was elected in 2011. I was confident that I could turn things around in the Sheriff's office and bring quality law and order into place. I really felt prepared to do the job when I asked people to vote for me. That was my third time to run for Sheriff in Winn Parish. Looking back, I know now that I was too young to have been a good sheriff the first time I ran."

"I guess I have always had a desire to serve the public because I have had just about every job in law enforcement and fire district work there is in the parish. During my time in a leadership position with the fire districts in the parish, we were able to add 14 stations through a 2.25 millage that was voted on 1998. I think it will be up for renewal next year. With those fourteen new stations around the parish, we were able to dramatically lower the fire rating throughout the parish which saved people a lot of money over the last 17 years."

"I was even Chief of Police of Winnfield in 1989 when at that time my mother's brother was Mayor," Sheriff Cranford Jordan confirmed, "Being in public service comes from both sides of my family. My dad's brother, Sanford was Sheriff of Winn Parish for 20 years."

"While I was Chief of Police in Winnfield, I got to know Sid Gautreaux who was Chief of Police in Baker for over 25 years. Sid is now the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish. If you see the uniform of an East Baton Rouge Deputy, you will notice that I copied their uniform arm patch insignia with the permission of the Sheriff."

"Fortunately, my wife Dianna has not only been a strong supporter of my years of public service in Winn Parish in all these different positions, but a real encourager. We also had a small TV station in Winnfield at one time which we broadcast Police Jury and City Council meetings.

One of the storms several years ago blew the roof off our building down on the Alexandria Highway, so we shut down our TV operations." The new Winn Parish jail is an 83 bed facility being built on the north side of Winnfield on Thomas Mill Road.

"The architect estimated the construction bids would come in around $10.2 million. The winning bid was for $6.75 million. While the project was out for bids I was personally doing a lot of praying for a low construction cost. I will say that prayer definitely works, in my humble opinion. We had obtained a low interest loan through the USDA. We have a one half cent sales tax that will us help pay back the USDA loan."

"I anticipate the new jail to be complete in March of 2018 or maybe a few weeks before," Sheriff Jordan elaborated. "When it is completed, we will have a week long open house so that anyone who wants to take a look at the new jail will have the opportunity." "Just when I thought things were getting straightened out here, we had the crisis at the prison. It looked like for a while that the prison would shut down. They lost a hundred employees before things got under the control of LaSalle Management out of Ruston," Sheriff Jordan explained.

"I was being told that the only way it could be kept open when no one would buy it was if the local Sheriff took it over. I didn't want anything to do with it. Finally I was able work out a deal with LaSalle Management where by all I have to do is monitor the operation of the prison. Keith Deville, a strong Christian man is the Warden. His management team holds a prayer meeting each and every morning."

In preparation for his re-election campaign in 2015, Sheriff Jordan put a few words (34 lines) down on paper that he titled: The Sheriff's Job: The first four and last five lines read like this: "Now the Sheriff's job is a curious one; like the housewife's work, it's never done. Calls come by night and come by day; they maybe near or miles away ..But most folks put the blame on the Sheriff. So it's quite a game, if you stay right in You'll get a pat on the back, and a sock on the chin. But, I like it, and I'm shedding no tears. And I'd like to be your Sheriff for another four years."

New jail under consturction