Jim Koury, a retiring sergeant from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, will be taking over as chief for the Cherokee-Pickens city of Nelson on Feb. 3, City Manager Brandy Edwards said Tuesday.
Edwards said she recommended Koury to the city council, which voted unanimously to hire him Jan. 14.
Nelson had been without a police chief since October when Heath Mitchell, the only officer for the town of about 1,300, resigned his post to move on to another job.
Although the city had previously considered hiring a part-time chief and several officers, Koury will work full time and a part-time officer will be hired to work under him, according to Edwards. Koury will be paid $35,000 a year, Edwards added.
New Mayor Larry Ray said the city did an extensive search to find a replacement for Mitchell, with the help of law enforcement professionals from other jurisdictions, including the Pickens and Cherokee sheriff’s offices.
Now that Koury has been hired, Ray said he’s confident the new chief will help keep Nelson’s crime issues low.
“I think he’s going to make us a real good man,” Ray said Tuesday. “I think he’ll be a great man. I don’t know whether he can slow down to the pace up here.”
Koury was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday, according to the mayor.
New Councilman Thad Thacker Jr. is looking forward to seeing how the city runs under the new chief.
“He’s very professional. Probably the best police officer that Nelson’s had in decades. That’s my opinion of him right now,” Thacker said Tuesday.
Thacker said he only met Koury briefly, but he was impressed.
“I’ve only listened to him about 15 minutes,” he said. “He carries himself very well, very professional. He has goals for the city.”
Cherokee Sheriff Roger Garrison believes the 25-year employee of the sheriff’s office will do good things for Nelson.
“Jimmy Koury was an asset to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office for over two decades,” Garrison said Tuesday. “We wish him luck in this new chapter of his career and are confident his experience will benefit the citizens of Nelson.”