WABENO - Tighter budgets challenge families, schools; even police departments.
Story By Shardaa Gray
Photos By Shardaa Gray
Wabeno has taken a unique approach to that issue.
Its police department has only one full-time employee: Chief Mick Ashbeck.
"I always had a desire and passion to be law enforcement when I was younger," said Ashbeck.
"I graduated from Wabeno high school here in 1985. Not quite sure yet what I wanted to do at that time."
Instead of following his dream, Mick Ashbeck did what many young men do: he followed the money.
"I was able to get a part-time job in the welding field and I pretty much stuck with it for about 22 years," Ashbeck said.
"And made very good money in the welding field."
But that wasn't his true passion.
So four years ago, Ashbeck went after his childhood dream.
He became Wabeno's police chief in 2009 and Townsend in 2010.
"I started out part time for Forest County Sheriff's Department and part time here in Wabeno, about the same time, early 2008." Ashbeck said.
As a kid, Ashbeck probably pictured himself as just one member of a big force.
But here in Wabeno, he's the only full-time employee.
"It might be a one man department here, but this is not a one man show out here," said Ashbeck.
"It's the collaborative effort of all our officers out here that make this happen."
To Ashbeck and his team, that means keeping the streets of Wabeno drug-free.
That's tough with a small force, so four years ago, they brought on Dutch.
"It only took about four months to raise over $10,000. And that gave us enough money at that time to go out and purchase a K-9." Ashbeck said.
That kind of extra effort recently earned Ashbeck an award.
He was recognized in the Heritage Who's Who Book. Still, Ashbeck credits his team.
"It's a collaborative effort from everybody. Was I there in the mixed of things, yes ok, but it was a collaborative effort from everybody." said Ashbeck.