Sunday, March 26, 2023

Belding to hire Ionia County Sheriff’s sergeant as new police chief

Dion Sower

BELDING — This city in the process of finalizing the search for a new police chief

After the retirement of Belding police chief Dale Nelson, 69, a little less than two months ago, the city has been on the lookout to fill Nelson’s place. After a lengthy interview process to find the best fit, one candidate emerged — and Ionia County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dion Sower is “over the moon” about being able to potentially work in his hometown again.

Working as an ice delivery boy at Wonderland Ice after graduating from Belding High School, Sower decided he was ready to tackle his dreams. He earned a degree in law enforcement from Grand Rapids Community College, then submitted one application to work in Belding law enforcement which launched his career at just 28 years old.

Working in Belding for just over two years, Sower took a step into Ionia County territory where he stayed for more than 19 years. Although it’s been an amazing journey for him, Sower says he is ready to go full circle and land back where he started.

“I was born and raised here. It’s my hometown,” Sower said. “Who doesn’t dream of trying to be a part of their hometown and making it a better place — and it already is. Who doesn’t relish the opportunity to try and be a part of that.”

Belding City Manager Jon Stoppels put together a panel of members of the public and city officials — including Stoppels, the fire chief, the mayor, a representative from the Housing Commission and a representative from the Chamber of Commerce.

“We were very agreeable as to who the finalists were going to be,” said Stoppels. “In this particular situation the city manager is the one that officially hires department directors, but I chose to include the community as well as the city council in the process.”

The interview process started more than two months ago with seven candidates. With Sower being the main finalist, the only step now is to complete his background check, which officials say shouldn’t be an issue. If things continue to go smoothly, Sower is expected to start his new position in August.

Ionia County Sheriff Charlie Noll said although he is sad to see Sower go, it’s ultimately an exciting thing.

“This seemed to be a great fit. He’s a very low-key and very down-to-earth guy. I think he’s gonna do a great job with the leadership role there,” Noll said. “He’ll lead that agency just like he has around here.”

Stoppels agreed.

“He has a very positive attitude,” Stoppels said. “I think he’s gonna do a great job. I’m very confident of that.”

Noll said Sower is leaving on great terms and just wanted a new challenge for himself.

“I think he’s just seeking a new challenge toward the end of his career,” said Noll. “He’s just ready to become a leader within the community he grew up in.”

With Sower on track to take over as police chief, he says nerves were in play at first, but as time has passed he is mentally ready for the position.

“It’s a big responsibility. There was a lot of contemplation before I decided to put in for this,” said Sower. “As much as I wanted to do it, I just wanted to make sure I had what it took to do this job.”

“It’s something I think I’m equipped to handle so the nerves have subsided. But there was definitely a sleepless night before the first interview,” said Sower.

The Belding City Council plans on officially welcoming Sower at their July 19 regular scheduled meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Sower said he was shaking with excitement just thinking about this moment to come.

“There’s something magical about the city of Belding,” he said.

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