Manning set to retire

Published 1:18 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2017

After more than 20 years of service to the community, including as a police officer and a deputy for Kenbridge and Lunenburg County, Joel Manning is set to retire from the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Manning began his service as an officer for the Kenbridge Police Department in 1989, according to Lunenburg Sheriff’s Office Major D.J. Penland.

Among his accomplishments, Manning became a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer in 1992. DARE is a program that teaches students ways to combat peer pressure and drug involvement.

This year marks Manning’s

25th graduating class of students from the DARE program, Penland said.

Manning is past president of The Fraternal Order of Police’s Southside Lodge 74, which opened in 2002.

Manning said though his retirement is effective June 1, due to accumulated vacation, he’ll be off until his retirement, except for two court dates on May 17 and 24.

He said his retirement “was a long time coming,” and though he is not ready to sit back and do nothing, he wants to give younger officers a chance to work at the sheriff’s office and give himself time to step back.

Manning’s service to the community and the U.S. began long before his tenure in law enforcement.

Manning, a native of Rice, served three years in the military, working in communications overseas in Korea in 1976 at Daeseong-dong, or called “Freedom Village,” during the Korean War.

Manning said the experience taught him the importance of service and setting an example for those around him.

“(We) serve the country for the betterment of all of our citizens,” Manning said.

He described his experience as a soldier as “an anxious time,” drawing parallels between the anxiety of the Korean War and nuclear activity in North Korea today.

Once Manning returned to Virginia, he strengthened his resolve to help the community through anxieties of their own, becoming an officer for the Kenbridge Police Department in 1982.

Manning said one of the most rewarding aspects of working in law enforcement was being involved in the DARE program, where he worked in Kenbridge and Victoria elementary schools. He said former students continue to approach years after their learning from him, thanking him for the impact his instruction has had on their lives.

Manning said he empathizes with young people today, noting it’s is a confusing time due to mixed messages of drug impacts in music and the media.

“If I have been able to help one (person), then I feel like I have accomplished what I have set out to do,” Manning said.

Manning has served 16 years as a volunteer firefighter in Kenbridge, and became an ordained minister, pastoring at Light of Hope Baptist Church in Blackstone.

Manning affectionately describes the cozy church as a “little log cabin church.”

He plans to continue pastoring at Light of Hope and perhaps work part-time at a community agency in Kenbridge, Victoria or Lunenburg.

Manning said his wife is planning a retirement send-off for him that will include close friends from the sheriff’s office. Manning’s first wife had died from cancer, and Manning said he “had been blessed twice” to have been married to two amazing women.

Manning wants to stay involved in the community as a community servant even when he no longer has the title of deputy.

“You have to be involved,” Manning said.