Local lawman achieves long time goal.
By Sid Riley
Don Branch was born in the old Marianna Hospital, was raised in the Grand Ridge area, attended Grand Ridge High School, and has always lived in Jackson County. This certainally qualifies him as being a Jackson County product.
Consequently, a large percentage of the citizens of our area already know and respect Don Branch. For those readers who do not know him, this writing will serve as an introduction.
He and his wife Debbie, who is a retired nurse, have three sons and three grandchildren. They own and operate a small hay farming operation in the Sneads-Grand Ridge area. This farm is also operated by one of their sons. Another son lives in Pensacola and works for a state agency. The youngest son is Jeremy Branch, District 4 County Commissioner.
Don has worked in law enforcement for thirty two years. His father had worked as a deputy under Sheriff’s Gause and Craven, so it was only natural that Don would also be motivated to work in the field of Law Enforcement. He started in campus security at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, then worked for the Dept. of Corrections as a guard at River Junction, and finally in 1978 went to work for Sheriff Applewhite as a deputy. In 1984, under Sheriff McDaniel he was promoted to investigator. In 1986 he went to work for the FDLE as a special agent, and worked for that agency until a few weeks ago when he left to assume the position as Chief Deputy for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Branch first met Lou Roberts in 1978 when they were both working on the same shift as deputies. They formed a close bond of friendship that has endured since that initial period. Through the years they often discussed the possibility of Lou Roberts eventually achieving the position as the elected sheriff of the county, and during those conversations Lou committed to Don that he wanted him to be his Chief Deputy if the dreamed for goal was ever achieved.
Well, that day has now arrived. Lou and Don are in the saddle and ready to ride.
They plan no immediate, drastic changes to the normal routine in the department. "We will stress more visibility", Branch stated. "If the bad guys realize a deputy is usually in an area, they will go somewhere else. I consider visibility a form of prevention. Our main goal is to do a good job in serving the citizens of Jackson County with the best possible law enforcement, thus making this a very safe place to live and raise children"
We at the Jackson County Times and all of the devoted citizens of Jackson County wish Sheriff Roberts and Deputy Branch great success as they step into those big shoes that have been filled by Sheriff McDaniel for so many years.