NSBNews.net photos by Henry Frederick / Oak Hill Commissioner Doug Gibson stands in front of the Volusia County Sheriff's Air-One helicopter behind City Hall on Thursday evening during a VCSO open house.
OAK HILL -- Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson played host to some 100 residents during an open house on the city hall grounds to commemorate six months of law enforcement service to the small city since its police force was disbanded.
And what a difference it has been.
"I am pleasantly surprised," said Commissioner and Vice Mayor Linda C. Hyatt said. "We've had no problems."
Johnson was accompanied by a dozen or so sworn personnel at the open house in and around the former police department facility, along with some of the hardware that children loved such as the Sheriff's Air-One helicopter, the SWAT mobile command center and robotic equipment.
Residents were feted to hot dogs, cake and soft drinks, all courtesy of Johnson himself.
"This is great," Commissioner Doug Gibson said. "Finally, we have peace."
Gibson's sentiment may be somewhat of an understatement because the city was in turmoil the batter part of the two years leading up to the August disbandment.
During that time embattled Police Chief, whose hiring from day 1 over her past admitted cocaine use, was fighting not only with several of her officers, including Manuel Perez, but with Mayor Mary Lee Cook and former Mayor Darla Lauer.
Ironically, 24 hours before the Sheriff's open house, Perez was bonded out of the Volusia County branch jail on domestic violence charges involving his live-in girlfriend in their Ormond Beach residence.
The 84-year-old Cook was not surprised about Perez's misdemeanor arrest, adding the disnabing of the police force in favor of going with the Sheriff's Office is something she has no regrets over.
"It's vindication for me," she said.
Sheriff Johnson said he was pleased with the turnout and even happier with the reception he and his deputies have received since taking over.
"We've had no complaints," he said.