Bower takes the oath as new sheriff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Big crowd fills courtroom for swearing-in

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Randy Bower is sworn in as the new sheriff of Orleans County this afternoon. Orleans County Court Judge James Punch, right, administers the oath and Bower’s wife, Robin, holds The Bible. The Bowers’ children, Jacob and Jessica, join their parents for the swearing-in.

Bower officially takes over as sheriff on midnight Jan. 1. He replaces Scott Hess, who is retiring after 12 years as sheriff.

Bower was joined for a group photo by many members of the Sheriff’s Department. Chris Bourke, right of Bower, will serve as undersheriff. Bourke started his 31-year career in law enforcement as a corrections officer in the county jail and has worked as a deputy on road patrol. He has been a lieutenant the past 18 years and is the department’s K-9 handler.

Bower also introduced Michael Mele as the new chief deputy. Mele has worked 18 years as a police officer with the first two years at the Holley Police Department and the past 16 years as a deputy with the Sheriff’s Department.

“He is challenge-driven and goal-oriented,” Bower said about Mele.

Clara Martin, standing behind Bower, will serve as his secretary. She has worked in the Board of Elections as a deputy elections commissioner.

Bower has worked the past 30 years as a public safety dispatcher. He was seriosuly injured in a car accident when he was 18 and has been paralyzed from the waist down.

Judge Punch told about 125 people at the swearing-in ceremony that Bower has been an inspiration to many in the community.

“He’s an unstoppable force,” Punch said.

Bower will take over a demanding job, that Punch said has become more difficult in recent years.

“It’s helping and protecting the people of the county and giving justice,” Punch said.

There was a big turnout for the swearing in at the main courtroom of the Orleans County Courthouse.