Kudos to our new Sheriff Wells
Hearty congratulations to Rick Wells — now bearing the title of Manatee County sheriff. He’s reached the mountaintop, the pinnacle of his lifelong career ambition.
In taking the oath of office on Tuesday, Sheriff Wells addressed a standing-room-only crowd at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto. So many people wanted to pay their respects to the new sheriff, the throng stretched out into the hallway. That’s not surprising. Our experience has shown Wells to be an engaging law enforcement officer, something he exhibited during his sometime humorous, sometimes emotional remarks at Tuesday’s ceremony.
That Wells had no opposition candidate in the August primary speaks to his skills and qualifications. Plus, name recognition likely scared off potential foes since he follows in his powerful father’s footsteps. Charlie Wells served 22 years as Manatee County’s sheriff before retiring in 2007. Some would say Rick Wells’ climb to the top was preordained long ago.
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“I always knew growing up that I would be a police officer. I really had no choice,” he told his now laughing audience.
Rick Wells’ 31-year law enforcement career includes an early stint in the sheriff’s office, but he took his leave after his father first filed to run for sheriff. Wells then served in the Florida Highway Patrol.
Ending his tenure at the MCSO this week, retiring Sheriff Brad Steube brought Wells back to the department as a lieutenant, and Wells shared his career dream with his new mentor. Wells left, though, to become the chief of police in Palmetto in 2010, gaining valuable leadership experience. Then, once again, he returned to the MCSO, this time as Steube’s second in command in 2014. This week completed the succession plan.
And a well conceived and executed plan it was. And a well deserved promotion for Rick Wells. Cheers.
Red Dog back in the spotlight
One of the most revered names in Manatee County Boy Scouting returns to the community spotlight with the recent publication of his third book, “A Century of Scouting: The History of Boy Scouting in Manatee County.” At age 84, retired Army Col. B.J. “Red Dog” Maynard endures as an iconic symbol of the value of scouting.
His incomparable dedication to the organization’s mission — in his words, turning boys into “men with good character, good citizenship training and good personal growth qualities” — is widely admired.
As Circuit Judge Gilbert A. Smith Jr. says, “Red Dog has been involved in scouting since 1971 and has never slowed down. He is an expert in training boys to become men.” That tribute is well deserved.
The 455-page “A Century of Scouting” — 10 years in the making — also digs deep into Manatee County’s history. “Camp Flying Eagle (one of the nation’s first camps owned by the Boy Scouts, founded in 1929) and Manatee County have grown up together,” Maynard told Herald reporter James A. Jones Jr. last week. His research for the book found an extensive history of both local scouting and the county, a natural fit for his book, published in October. His experience as a college history major served him well in compiling meaningful material.
Maynard has also written a history of Camp Flying Eagle, on Upper Manatee River Road, titled “Diamond of the Manatee” and a cookbook titled “If It’s Smoking, It’s Cooking and If It’s Black it’s Done.”
Kudos to Maynard for his devotion to serving both the nation and Boy Scouting.
Quote of the Week
“School board is supposed to be grass-roots, entry-level political office, but what we’ve seen is school board races are becoming big money. In some races they are becoming partisan even though they are non-partisan seats and non-partisan races.”
— Manatee County School Board Chairman Charlie Kennedy, commenting about potential changes in school board elections in an interview with the Herald.