Claiborne County, Tenn., Sheriff David Ray was recently awarded the John L. Martin Award from project chairman J. Don Gibson of the Wilderness Road Kiwanis Club. The award is presented periodically to deserving officials who go beyond the call of duty in their efforts to protect the public.
It is named in honor of Lee Count, Va., deputy John L. Martin who was shot three times on Nov. 4, 1988, while checking on a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of the Western Lee County Health Clinic in Ewing, Va. Martin, a 14-year veteran of the department and father of four, died three days later.
“It is very hard for people who are addicted to these drugs to give them up,” Ray told the Kiwanians and guests. “I can honestly say the best advice I can give is for them to get Jesus Christ in their lives.”
The sheriff has led efforts in housing federal prisoners and turned over more than $4 million to the county at a time when many counties are in fiscal distress. He has introduced GED, First Priority and various ministries into the Justice Center (jail) for the benefit of the prisoners. The sheriff has approximately 60 prisoner trustees who pick up litter along county roads and Norris Lake. Others have duties at the court house, city hall, animal shelter and washing county vehicles.
Ray played a large part in the successful investigations of the Tunnel 2 Package Store murders and the Harvey Fuson murder at the Old Drug Store in Cumberland Gap.
Prior to beginning his current term as sheriff, Ray served 10 years with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and five years with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He also served as sessions judge for several years.