MORRISTOWN - While tens of thousands of eager concert-goers invade the Jamboree In The Hills venue this afternoon, dozens of law enforcement officers from across the state and region will be gearing up for a packed four days.
According to Belmont County sheriff's Capt. Ron Everettt, police spent the first part of the week monitoring campers as they moved into the various campgrounds. He said while additional attendees will arrive today or Friday, that part of the work week is mostly finished.
Beginning today, between 50 and 75 police will patrol the Jamboree site, as well as campgrounds and roadways surrounding the venue, to ensure everyone involved is having a fun but safe time.
"Right now, everything looks good," he said. "It looks like it should be cool out, and that typically keeps the drunken activity down."
Everett said officers will be looking for anything that is illegal, from thefts to accidents. He said while Liquor Control agents typically deal with underage consumption and other alcohol-related offense, officers are always on the lookout for such activity.
Outside the venue, the Ohio State Highway Patrol has ramped up coverage and patrol for the weekend, which Lt. James Faunda said is equivalent to a holiday weekend - or larger.
"Basically, Jamboree is one of the biggest events of the year," he said. "With the weather and the talent, we expect it to be one of the larger years."
Because of that, Faunda said the patrol will take advantage of 250 hours of federal overtime to blanket the area and ensure motorists and pedestrians crossing U.S. 40 are safe. He said officers will focus on arresting impaired drivers and those operating vehicles recklessly, as well as those who are transporting drugs to the venue. Faunda also cited fatalities in recent years as a catalyst for the increased manpower.
Additionally, Faunda said troopers will keep on eye on Interstate 70 near the Ohio 9 exit, where an ongoing construction project could cause issues for out-of-town drivers. The project requires lane shifts and narrow lanes on that heavily-traveled stretch of highway.
"To be honest, it's been a problem with traffic crashes in that area because people don't slow down, and they hit that jog in the roadway and lose control," he said. "The speed limit there is reduced to 55 mph, and we will have troopers there aggressively enforcing that."
Opening ceremonies kick-off the weekend's events at 3 p.m. today, followed by acts including A Thousand Horses, Kelleigh Bannen, Cole Swindell, David Nail, Darius Rucker and headliner Little Big Town.