BELL COUNTY (December 31, 2012) --The new sheriff for Central Texas' biggest county, the first in nearly three decades, will be sworn in at midnight at Ratibor Grill in Temple.
Sheriff-elect Eddy Lange says it's a combination of nervousness and excitement.
"Anytime there's a change, especially a major change like this when there's been 28 years...things will be different under a new regime, and human nature is to be scared of the unforseen," Lange said.
For the former justice of the peace and county commissioner, to be sheriff has been a dream of his for about 15 years.
"What I'm asking my employees to do is give us a chance; let us prove ourselves," Lange said.
"I'm going to give the same respect to my employees to let them prove themselves to me."
A higher pay scale for the sheriff's department and fixing the high turnover rate of employees in the county jail are some of the things he's focusing on in his new role.
"They do a tremendous amount of work that amounts to little pay, so all of our employees, the basis is there, we just need to give our employees of the sheriff's department better training and make tools and equipment available to them to make them do the best that they can," Lange said.
Lange also said he plans to get right to work early Tuesday morning, which county commissioner Richard Cortese said will be greatly appreciated by the community.
"Especially with the kind of instances that have been happening, everybody's looking for law enforcement to fix everything and it can't always fix everything, it just has to be there to support us when we need help," Cortese said.
Cortese, who has known lange since high school, said he has great faith in Lange.
"We have a good nucleus of people working in Bell County from the ground level up, and things won't change that much at first, and we hope we grow into whatever new programs the new sheriff wants to have in his office," Cortese said.
Lange said he hopes to learn from his predecessor.
"We always look to the past things that have worked in the past and what would work in the future."