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Budget crunch

Buffett donation to fund three sheriff positions

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Macon County Sheriff's Deputy Ashley Higar checks on a traffic accident on Eldorado Street while driving an an unmarked Ford Raptor that was donated to the department by the the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

DECATUR – Few things have been more rewarding for the Macon County Sheriff's office than a relationship with a globe-trotting philanthropist who manages one of the largest foundations in the world.

But while the donations and grants have been nice, it's a relationship built of mutual desire to help the community and protect those who need it most.

For the past few years, the sheriff's office has received several grants from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which has provided the office things as varied as a motorcycle, a K-9 vehicle and even a Law Enforcement Training Facility.

It's something that Sheriff Thomas Schneider does not take lightly.

“Howard Buffett continues to provide us so many things, and we cannot begin to thank him enough for what he has done for our office and our community.”

Buffett, who lives in Decatur and maintains a farm in Christian County, chairs the foundation, which operates to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations.

He has said his investments are just another way to give back and improve the quality of life in the community.

That kindness was shown again recently to the sheriff's office, as the Macon County State's Attorney's office received three, four-year grants totaling $1.2 million. The grants, approved by the county board at its July meeting, will allow the sheriff's office to fund the positions of a drug interdiction agent and related equipment, a DUI enforcement officer and related equipment, and an elder victim’s crime unit investigator and equipment.

The grant will go into effect later this year once the current grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which currently funds the positions, runs out. Without the Buffett grant, the positions would have been terminated.

“This will give us peace of mind for at least another four years,” Schneider said.

The office is particularly enthusiastic for the elderly victim crime unit grant, as the number of frauds circulating around Central Illinois have increased in recent years.

At no point does the sheriff’s office ask Buffett for any sort of help with a project or purchases, Schneider said. Instead, the foundation provides auxiliary and offers grants and contributions to help where they see fit.

“The philanthropy that has been shown by this group is endless and we are very thankful,” Schneider said.

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