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I had the opportunity to sit down with Lt. Joel Howard and speak to him about why he is running for Bennington County Sheriff.

Lt. Howard entered law enforcement in 2005 in Pownal, and in 2007, joined the sheriff's department; promoted to lieutenant in 2018. Before, he was in the fire department and was an EMT.

In addition to his road duties, Howard constructed contracts with towns and select-board meetings; he worked with Massachusetts State Police in recovering stole items.

Howard also believes in being fair, firm and friendly, and expects his deputies to be. He provided deputies with training in law enforcement and public service. Howard can communicate difficult, wordy material in a way that is clear to his brass, deputies and the community.

"Politics are out," he says. He will "rule as a professional 'chief'," working through regulations without compromising his position. Howard said he would be his own man; "I will be in my office," he said. "My door will welcome all. I will always be available." I was surprised to learn many folks knocked on his home's door to chat. Sure sounds like he is available around the clock.

Howard desires to have female deputies join the sheriff's department. How about that? Howard and his wife collect donated items, paying $600 a month for storage – then tag sales. The profit collected goes for care packages to soldiers overseas, families who have lost their homes through fire, and to help people down on their luck, including homeless folk.

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In addition, he has started 'Secret Santa' asking schools for children who are in need of clothing, food, and school supplies, donating items and money to the children called "Boxes of Love." At Christmastime, Howard and his deputies would look for cars with minor violations and pull them over, creating conversations. If they were in need, a deputy would be standing by at Walmart, taking the stopping deputies' orders (complete Christmas dinner, personal items and gift certificates) and delivering them to the stunned drivers in a flash. They were almost faint with teary eyes.

Over 700 folks were helped by these programs last year. This fantastic deed is paid for by weekly donations from his deputies and public donations. 

I will be voting for Joel Howard for Bennington County Sheriff, encouraging others to do the same – my vote and others will also be a vote for the community of Bennington County.

Garry DuFour



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