On Sept. 15, 1997, my life and the lives of my employees and their families changed forever when the R.E. Phelon Co. Inc. experienced an act of terror perpetrated by one man.
Local law enforcement agencies, led by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, responded quickly. Major Jody Rowland was in command of the scene, and I was immediately struck by his determined, professional manner and calm demeanor in the face of utter chaos.
After the horror of the first few days had passed, the person who continued to check on us with care and diligence was Officer Rowland. He made it clear that he was there for us if we had any questions or concerns. He worked closely with us on changes in our security arrangements, and helped reassure us as we went through the trial and relived the horror all over again.
With the election for Aiken County sheriff approaching, we are all asking ourselves what qualities we want in our next sheriff. I want someone who is qualified, experienced, responsible, dedicated and accessible to those he serves.
Now that he has taken the position of acting sheriff, we have seen Jody Rowland put these qualities into action with the reorganization of the road deputies' schedules and in instituting his own open-door policy for the sheriff's office.
I know Jody Rowland. He is my friend, and I trust him. I am proud to support his campaign for sheriff, and I urge the people of Aiken County to join me in voting for Officer Rowland on March 25 in the Republican primary - not just because he's my friend, but because he truly is the best candidate for the job.
Dale Phelon, Aiken, S.C.
(Editor's note: The writer is president and CEO of R.E. Phelon Co. Inc. in Aiken, S.C.)