REED CITY — A week after Osceola County Sheriff Justin Halladay announced he would be stepping away from his position, a selection panel has named a new sheriff.
A selection panel made up of County Clerk Karen Bluhm, County Probate Judge Tyler Thompson and County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Badovinac unanimously approved Ed Williams from among a pool of seven applicants.
Coming from a military background, Williams was the only candidate from outside the county but has leadership experience and the only applicant with experience in grant writing.
"Coming into Osceola County will have its challenges but that is something that I am used to," he said. "I have changed units. I went from being a leader from one unit to a leader in another, to a leader in another. Your values and your morals do not stop at the door somewhere else. They continue to move one and you learn from every organization you are a part of."
The panel spoke as to why they selected Williams.
"His qualifications and resume are quite impressive," Thompson said. "His military training and his training over in Clare County set him up to run about anything."
"Leadership-wise, Mr. Williams is right up there at the top," Bluhm added.
In being named the new sheriff, Williams said the first thing he was going to do was get to know the employees.
"The first 90 days, that's a big thing. That's where you start with the people," he said. "It's going to be taking a step back and looking at people."
In taking the position, Williams admitted he would have a lot of learning to do when it came to everything from policies to training and how the department handles complaints.
Williams' position as sheriff will be effective as of Sept. 8. He will then have the option to run for the position in the 2020 election season.
Two others — from the original pool of seven — interviewed with the panel on Wednesday.
With a lack of institutional leadership experience, Mark Cool came in with a plan to stick around with the position for quite some time.
"In 1995, I put on the uniform for the first time and it wasn't long after that the sheriff took me into his office and he told me 'this could be you someday'," Cool said. "Fast-forward 15 years, I had made the decision that I was going to be sheriff someday."
The third candidate, Chris Lockhart, had actually asked the board to rescind he application due to Cool being his cousin. Despite his previous request, Lockhart still came to the interview after the panel told him they were impressed with his resume.
In sitting down for the interview, Lockhart was not sure if he would accept the position should it be given to him but, with his 17 years at the Osceola County department and three years working in the private sector, Lockhart said law enforcement is his calling.
"I think with law enforcement, just like many things, is a calling for God and that is why I cannot get out of it," he said.