Archive for Thursday, February 21, 2002

Allenbrand, Sheldon made a difference

February 21, 2002

Johnson County saw the passing of two men last week who proved an individual can make a difference.

Until his resignation 13 months ago, Fred Allenbrand was the only sheriff the vast majority of Johnson County residents ever knew. After 34 years as sheriff, first for two-year terms and later for four-year terms, even Allenbrand had difficulty recalling how many times his fellow citizens elected him to the post. He did remember every race and that it was the citizens who kept him in the job.

Allenbrand was a hard-nosed cop from the beginning of his career to the end. He said at his retirement his biggest regret was the release of convicted killers he helped send to prison. But Allenbrand was also a believer and supporter of the county's corrections program.

Those views reveal the man and his experience and philosophy of law enforcement and leadership. As former county commissioner Johnna Lingle noted, Allenbrand was the last of his kind. He made it to the top without the kick-start of a college education, but with natural intelligence and drive.

Allenbrand was not threatened by his humble professional beginnings in an increasingly sophisticated Johnson County. Another county commissioner once commented Allenbrand's greatest strength was his ability to recognize and reward talent. The quality staff with whom Allenbrand was surrounded helped institute such innovations as an up-to-date crime lab and community policing program.

The staff Allenbrand put together as his department grew from a rural law enforcement agency to a metropolitan force is his legacy, one that will continue to benefit the county for years to come.

The legacy of Bill Sheldon is to get involved. He, more than any other individual, personified the widespread public dissatisfaction with Oz Entertainment Co.'s redevelopment plan for the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

While some Oz opponents drifted off message, attacking the project for witchcraft or supposed Caribbean registration, Sheldon hammered on the company's lack of resources, its less-than-open dealing with various government dealings and the proposal's questionable viability. The opposition he led as president of Taxpayers Opposed to Oz Inc. probably succeeded in delaying the approval process long enough that Oz imploded over those very issues.

In doing so Sheldon taught bureaucrats a lesson its seems they must periodically relearn that seemingly grand ideas are worthless without public involvement or support.

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