Oconee County resident Mark Martin wasn't just impacted by a recent manhunt because his Clydesdale horse farm happened to be a mile away from the search area. Martin became an integral part by offering law enforcement the use of his three four-wheelers and two Polaris Rangers, and even riding along on the two-day search for Kaleb Jordan Moss.
"I'd never been on a manhunt before," he said.
It was then that Martin says he realized the Oconee County Sheriff's Office could benefit from having an off-road vehicle of its own. He began researching and learned that at least a dozen other agencies in the state already were using them for search and rescue and other operations.
"I just really think in Oconee County it's so rural a machine like this will make it so easy to cover so much more [ground]," he said.
Martin decided to start raising funds to purchase a Polaris Ranger. Within a few hours, colleagues and acquaintances had chipped in over half the $15,000 needed to buy and equip the machine.
The Polaris seats six, but deputies plan to construct a kennel in the back so there will be room for K-9s and up to four officers, Martin said.
"It'll make it safer, make their jobs easier and, for some of the runners, it'll be harder to get away," he added.
Last week Martin went ahead and purchased the Polaris with the hope that community members will continue to contribute. Donations may be dropped off or mailed to Martin's store, Pet Supplies Plus, 191 Alps Road, Suite 15, Athens, 30606. Checks should be made out to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office.