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I saw Joe Bell, not once, but twice during the weekend. On Monday afternoon, I was stunned, as I'm sure many people were, to learned that he had died.
At first, I didn't want to believe it, but one phone call to the police department confirmed that this wasn't a rumor. It was reality, but it seemed surreal.
It seems like yesterday that I was taking a photo of Bell during a special meeting of the Lebanon City Council where he was officially announced as the Lebanon Police Chief.
With the exception of times when I sat down with Chief Bell for interviews for stories, my interactions with him were typically brief.
On Friday afternoon, I saw the Chief helping direct traffic at the scene of the accident. Normally, at an accident scene. I'm focused on getting pictures of the scene. But as I was returning to my car, for some reason, I decided to take some quick pics of the officers directing traffic, one of whom was the chief.
I even remember calling out to him, “I got an action photo of you, Chief.”
He smiled and laughed, as he often did.
On Saturday, I ran by the office, and I saw someone on a riding lawnmower cutting the grass in front of the Lebanon Police Department. As I got closer, I started to suspect the driver was the chief. Surely, I was wrong. The chief of police doesn't mow the grass, does he?
I slowed to a stop, and the lawnmower stopped as well. I looked at the chief. He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, smiled and laughed, and went back to work.