After 44 years, the residents of Wells County have a new sheriff after long-time Sheriff Curtis Pellett decided to step down with one year remaining in his elected term.
Now, after an interview process, the county has Sheriff Johnny Lawson.
Lawson was most recently a deputy in Bowman County since November 2008. Before that he was a deputy with the Benson County Sheriff's Office under Sheriff Steven Roher after graduating from the police academy at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake in 2006.
It's a little too early for Lawson to tell what changes he will make with the department, if any.
"Yesterday was my first official day and today we're going to see how it goes," Lawson said in an interview Thursday. "He (Pellett) must have been doing something right since he was here for 44 years. That's a long time."
When he heard the news of his selection as the new sheriff, Lawson and his wife, Christine, decided to purchase a house in Harvey in November. But they waited until Christmas break in December to move to make it easier on their seven children who still live at home. The couple has 12 children in all.
Since then, Christine has gotten work in her field as a certified nursing assistant and six children have already begun school in Harvey. A seventh child will be entering school after returning from the Teen Nation Tour, an anti-bullying campaign that plays music to bring awareness to the cause.
"I want the people of Wells County to know that my door is open and I want them to come to me with questions or concerns, anything they need," Lawson said. "The door is open and the coffee is hot."