Ken Bell, a friend and the other Deputy Director of the South Carolina US&R Task Force, announced this week that he is retiring from the program to spend more time with his family and his other pursuits. In a reply I sent that was meant to pay homage to his contributions to the program (which were enormous), I compared him to the contractor who took the blueprints and built the house.
Our task force originating plans were put together by our Program Management Group, as a team. Though our first Director, Ray Wilkinson, was a huge part of the equation, Ken was right there with him, implementing the things he needed done. When I took over as acting Director in 2005, I insisted on taking those original plans, developing a strategic plan to take us the rest of the way, and insuring the future of the program. Nothing in those plans would have been any good had we not had a reliable and determined individual to coordinate it all. From the birth of our program forward, Ken was a constant representative of the program, and through most of the way, the central focus for getting anything done.
Even after we hired Dan McManus, and I was off doing my thing, I'd say that Dan was able to count on Ken for whatever he needed done. So at this point where South Carolina's premier US&R asset has gone from a piece of paper to a respected state-level Type 1 US&R task force with a multi-million dollar facility and apparatus and cache, we know that because of Ken's efforts, our house stands on a solid foundation. This program was built for generations by someone who genuinely cared about each component as if he were building his very own home, when in fact, he was building it for someone else; the citizens of South Carolina.
If you have a program you care deeply about, that you know is important not just to you, but to others, it is imperative that you find the right person to implement it. We were so very fortunate to have had Ken come into our lives and take us to where we are now. Ken- great job. We all owe you, big time.