Mayes County Sheriff Frank Cantey his retiring. He was honored with a reception at the Graham Community Center Tuesday.
Cantey was elected sheriff in 2000. He decided not to seek another term in the last election. Mike Reed will take over the office Jan. 2, 2013.
Cantey talked about his new found faith in Jesus Christ. “I was saved on Sept. 11, 2011 and I was baptized on Sept. 14. It’s not about a religion, it’s about a relationship I have with Jesus Christ, a personal relationship. That was recent. I didn’t grow up in church but I recently... have been spending a lot of time in church and I plan on spending a lot more time in church.”
His future plans are to work for a company part-time selling jail supplies at vendor shows, play golf and riding his motorcycle.
Cantey said when he took office in 2001, the sheriff’s office had 28 employees. Now there are 53. “In the first hundred days, we had an average of about 67 people a day in jail. Now we average about 150 a day. It’s a different world than it was in 2001, with recent events in Connecticut and Oregon. It’s just a different world now than it was 12 years ago.”
Cantey remembered meeting investors from Wisconsin who wanted to start a music festival in Pryor.
“They told me they were going to put a music festival here and have country music stars and people from all over the world would come. I said, yeah right,” Cantey said.
Despite his skepticism, it happened just that way.
The music festival was called Country Fever and later became Rocklahoma.
As far as arrests during the music festival Cantey said, “we tried our best not to have to arrest people. You know, we had people coming from all over the world to Pryor, Oklahoma, just to get arrested? It’s private property. As long as they weren’t acting stupid we just left them alone.”
The Thompson murder case in Locust Grove was one of the more interesting cases he encountered while sheriff. Thompson had hired Darrell Barnes to kill his wife. “We had other homicide cases, that case and the fire we had in the Osage area. Wendy Cobb had promised her boyfriend money if he would kill the husband. Those are probably the two biggest cases that we had. We had other homicide cases that we knew right away who did it. And we were able to take care of those cases. Those were two cases where we didn’t know at the time the homicide happened. I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but those were the two ‘Who Done it’ cases.”
Prior to being elected sheriff, Cantey was a campus police officer, a deputy in Delaware County, a police officer in Kansas, Oklahoma and then a Pryor police officer, where he served for 20 years.
“You can’t do this job yourself,” Cantey said. “Surround yourself with good people and understand that everybody’s different. You can’t treat all people exactly the same. Employees are what make the sheriff’s office. It’s not so much who the sheriff is, he leads and guides, but you have to let people that you hire to do specific jobs you have let them do those jobs and support them.”