LAKEWOOD – Administrative changes are coming to Lakewood as the village will lose its police chief of more than 10 years to retirement and has welcomed a fresh face in a newly created position.
Village President Erin Smith announced in her spring newsletter to residents that Lakewood Police Chief Larry Howell would retire on May 16 after having served in the role since August 2003.
Howell said he felt the time was right to step down as his wife is also retiring. He believed the village and department were in a strong position and could handle the transition in leadership.
"It is just the right time for me to leave," Howell said. "I think whoever the village decides to hire will be someone who can help move it forward. We've been very stable and able to keep the same group of guys together. That helps knowing individuals have been there a while."
The department has eight full-time and three part-time officers.
Howell spent his entire 39-year career in the Lakewood area, starting in 1974 with the Crystal Lake Police Department before moving on to Lake in the Hills where he spent 24 years.
While he said there was no one standout moment in his career, he enjoyed being one of the last few who had an opportunity to work his way up from dispatcher to chief and experience every position within a department.
"I'm probably the last of a dying breed who worked all the way up the ranks," Howell said. "I worked every position there is and that just doesn't happen any more."
The village plans to name a new chief before the May 16 retirement date.
Just as Lakewood did in 2003 to get Howell, a former Lake in the Hills administrator has joined Lakewood's ranks as a deputy village manager.
Shannon Andrews, former assistant village manager for Lake in the Hills, joined the Lakewood administration last month as deputy village manager to help fill the vacant director of public works position that was eliminated when Paul Ruscko left for Woodstock in August.
Lakewood Village Manager Catherine Peterson said the new position fills the administrative needs just as a director of public works did when the village was going through an $11 million wastewater treatment plant renovation that required a person with engineering knowledge.
Peterson said now the village needs someone who can be a project manager for public works and help pick up responsibilities in other departments when she is away.
"Any time you have a staffing change you have an opportunity to look where you're at organizationally," Peterson said. "Right now it's a very busy time with putting together the budget and we are expecting residential growth in the next couple years. [Andrews] is a wonderful addition to help with that."