DRIVING TOWARD the Fayetteville square, the Lincoln County Courthouse stands like a sentry over the community. It’s an architectural dream, breathtaking in the glow of early morning or against an ombre sunset. Some drop in just to walk its halls, while others wander inside, searching for offices to pay taxes, renew tags, or register deeds. Attorneys, judicial officials, law enforcement officers, plaintiffs, and defendants appear at appointed times. All enter through the east door and exit the west under the watchful care of Lincoln County Sheriff Department Deputies Wayne Graham, Justin Christmas, and Ashton Twyman.
Together, they have nearly 40 years in law enforcement, but their time walking the courthouse halls are at the top of their favorites list.
Graham, who has been on courthouse duty the longest, also manages other responsibilities. “I take care of all the guns in the department and install the GPS in the new vehicles, plus I also take the old cars apart so they can be sold. And I used to be the crime scene photographer,” he said.
The trio feeds off each other throughout the day, interacting with the community they love.
“You get to see every person in the whole community at least one time,” said Christmas.
Four to five hundred people pass through the courthouse on any given day, and at certain times of the year, it surges to double that number.
Graham said, “There are certain times of the year when taxes and tags and everything happens all at once. We have had 1,016 people through the door in one day.”
Through the doors or in the halls, Christmas will make you laugh — count on it.
Twyman said about Christmas, “He’ll call someone the wrong name or tell them their tag can’t be renewed today because they’ve got the wrong color car.”
But Christmas equally enjoys helping an elderly couple put tags on their car and interacting with those coming in for more serious matters. He says to those coming in for court, “It’s all going to be okay. It’s all going to work out.”
Graham, Twyman, and Christmas aren’t co-workers; they’re family. Their rapport is as easy as their demeanor. Sharing a common goal has that effect on you.
Your safety is their common goal and responsibility — one they don’t take lightly.
Twyman said, “We enjoy cutting up with our community, but we still must be conscious of our surroundings. Many people come to this courthouse to get a divorce, fight for custody of their child, fight for an estate of a loved one, or fight a criminal charge. We have to be conscious of what comes through the courthouse doors and what is happening on the courthouse lawn. There are many times the metal detector buzzes, and we have to wand people down to see exactly what is causing it to buzz.”
The deputies are always there for the community, to serve and protect.
As you pass through the exit doors, no matter why you came through the metal detectors at the entrance, you’ll likely be glad you came. Thanks to your courthouse deputies, your day looks a little brighter, even if the skies are gray. GN