By Valliant Corley
Wescom Wire Service
GOLD BEACH, Ore. A group calling itself "Citizens for an Honest Government" presented petitions calling for the recall of Sheriff Mark Metcalf that they say contained 1,796 signatures to the County Clerk's office Monday afternoon, three hours before the deadline.
James G. Newman of Brookings, the chief petitioner, said the group had about the required 1,421 signatures at the start of the weekend but went door-to-door in the weekend storms to get extras, in case some of the signatures were thrown out.
"We had five sheets in a car that broke down in Florence," Newman said. "The car finally made it back in town Friday night."
Chief Deputy County Clerk Connie Higgins gave Newman a letter that acknowledged receipt of petition signature sheets, "purporting to contain at least 1,421 signatures for verification by this office.
"The signatures reflect those of electors who signed the petition for the recall of Mark Metcalf, Curry County Sheriff."
Higgins said her office has 10 days to verify those signatures and that they are from county residents registered to vote.
"We'll get on it right away,"Higgins said. "Once we certify there are enough to go forward with the recall, we will contact the sheriff. He then has five days to resign or submit a statement of justification."
Higgins said if Metcalf should choose not to resign if the signatures are sufficient, a recall election will be held within 35 days.
"If he chooses to resign, the resignation is effective immediately," Higgins said.
1,421 valid signatures are needed, based on the vote count for governor four years ago. Those signatures were due in the county's election office by the close of the day on Monday, 90 days since the recall was started.
Metcalf has since been arraigned on an indictment handed up by a Curry County Grand Jury charging him with 11 misdemeanors, including four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, four harassment and three official misconduct.
"I am obviously unable to discuss or address any specifics of the allegations made against me, but I am asking the citizens of Curry County for the opportunity to present my case to a jury in a court of law," Metcalf said in a statement.
Curry County Circuit Court Judge Richard Mickelson set a pretrial appearance for Friday.
When the petition began, Newman and David Darnell, treasurer of the committee, gave the statement of reasons in their petition request as: "Past and present criminal activities by the Curry County sheriff have established a culture of corruption within the sheriff's department that successfully renders all policies and procedures suspect."
"David Darnell ... is under formal probation supervision by my office and he was recently incensed that his probation did not allow him to continue to volunteer at the Curry County animal shelter," Metcalf said when the petition began.
Darnell said that wasn't the reason the recall papers were filed.
"We filed because of his past criminal activities and his present criminal activities," Darnell said.
Metcalf was a captain in the sheriff's department when he was appointed in December 2003 to replace Sheriff Kent Owens, who retired. Metcalf was elected sheriff when his term expired in 2004.
The charges in the indictment relate to alleged incidents dating back to January, 2005.
Charges of sexual abuse in the third degree, harassment and official misconduct in the first degree date back to Jan. 4, 2005, when Metcalf allegedly subjected one woman to sexual contact by touching the area of her breasts. The same woman was allegedly involved in similar charges on Feb. 8, 2005.
Similar acts were alleged to have occurred with another woman on March 23, 2006, and with a third woman in March and April 2006.