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Start over with no regrets

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Posted: Monday, November 19, 2018 1:46 pm | Updated: 1:49 pm, Mon Nov 19, 2018.

Ronnie Brooks is what some call a “jailer,” but his official title is Work Crew Supervisor for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. In layman’s terms, he oversees the inmates who are eligible to work outside the jail walls on projects that benefit the community.

Brooks previously had a gas station for 25 years, but found himself having to close shop. “My business was just one of many that fell victim to what you might call ‘progress,’ Brooks said.

In 1994, Highway 35 was rerouted between Fort Payne and Rainsville. His gas station closed down due to the flow of traffic being “detoured” to the new four-lane route up the east side of Sand Mountain.

“I was 52 years old when that happened and I needed to start all over again,” Brooks said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had a friend who knew Cecil Reed, and next thing I knew, Cecil offered me the job of carrying inmates on road duty.”

Brooks said he took the job, and kept it even after Reed was no longer sheriff.

“I thought, ‘Why not,’ and Jimmy Harris kept me on when he became Sheriff,” Brooks said. “I like my job. I have no regrets about the change of employment and hope to continue on.”

The position is full-time, Monday through Friday, and he says he enjoys doing what he does. “The inmates used to do things like clean up at the fair grounds,” he said. “They are not violent criminals, but who gets to go out on cleanup is based on what crime they committed. Plus, we screen them as well.”

Brooks graduated from Fyffe High School, and his family is well known in the area. His parents went to Crossville School and his sisters have both worked as school teachers at Ruhama and Williams Avenue. He said his wife worked for over 20 years for Dr. Roebuck until Roebuck passed away in 2009.

When Brooks isn’t watching after inmates, he said he likes to grow a vegetable garden. He said he enjoys good health and grows different types of vegetables.

“I grow seven or eight different types of vegetables in my garden,” he said.

Ronnie’s Motto: “Just do as I say.”

— Marla Ballard’s Who’s Who appears each Tuesday.

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