Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
Two days after a Rowan County sheriff’s deputy found him passed out behind the wheel of his car and charged him with driving while impaired, Rowan County Commissioner Jon Barber said he’s entering an alcohol treatment facility.
In a prepared statement Monday, Barber said, “I am extremely sorry this event happened. I am completing an assessment with Mercy Horizons in Charlotte and I will do whatever the evaluation determines. I take full responsibility for this incident, and will abide by the ruling of the court. I ask for your prayers for me and my family.”
Barber is not expected to attend the county commissioners’ annual planning retreat this week, county officials said Monday. A teacher at Southeast Middle School, he is also taking leave from his job.
In the charging citation ó listing Barber as William Sherrill Barber III, of 335 Umberger Road, Mount Ulla ó Deputy M.A. Dixon said he approached Barber’s 2001 Ford passenger vehicle at 7499 Sherills Ford Road Saturday around 8:49 p.m.
The warrant said the 47-year-old Barber had “a strong odor of alcohol about his person and was passed out behind the wheel with the key in the switch in the on position and both wheels on the drivers side still on the roadway.”
The deputy took Barber’s license and attached it to the charging documents.
Officers tested Barber’s blood alcohol content twice. Each test measured the alcohol content at .18, more than double the legal limit of .08.
Barber has taken two days of personal leave from his job as a social studies teacher at Southeast Middle and may request more, said Delores Morris, the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s assistant superintendent for human resources.
Morris said Monday that school system officials will conduct their own investigation of the charge against Barber and make a recommendation to Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom.
In most cases, when the incident is a first offense and the officials have no evidence “of habitual or excessive use of alcohol,” the school system “normally” gives an employee a written reprimand, Morris said.
Rowan-Salisbury spokeswoman Rita Foil said Monday that school system employees must report any arrest to officials within five days.
School officials would not take any action before completing their investigation unless the nature of the arrest “affects the employee’s job performance or unless there’s a reasonable suspicion that they’re using alcohol in the work place,” Foil said.
Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said Sunday night that Barber called him Sunday afternoon to tell him of the charge.
Chamberlain said he was surprised. Chamberlain asked Barber if he could do anything to help Barber. Barber responded, “Pray.”
Managing Editor Frank DeLoache contributed to this story. Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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