BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Raising boys up to be men of honor, integrity, and strength can be tough. In fact, it seems that it takes a whole village to raise kids the right way. The family structure is paramount in developing kids for their adult years. This idea is perfectly summed up in Clint Bell, School Resource Officer [SRO] for Cossatot River School District. If each young man grows up to me the man that Clint is, well, everything will be just fine.
Clint’s journey to his current position was quite the journey. It is almost certain that there may not be another police officer that has taken the path that Clint has. He grew up in South Polk County where he graduated from Van Cove in 1995. Farm life was the norm for Clint, his dad, Herschel, was in the poultry business working as a night shift manager. “When I graduated from high school, dad built his first chicken house,” recalls Clint. He enjoyed agriculture and the poultry industry so much that upon graduation he went to the University of Arkansas and earned his Bachelor’s in Poultry Science. Clint wasn’t alone though, his wife, Tanya, studied Poultry Science as well at UofA. “Tanya actually went to school for education, but soon after arriving at school my advisor had her talked into Poultry Science,” says Clint with a grin. After graduation, both Clint and Tanya went to work in the poultry industry, both of them receiving jobs at OK Farms in Heavner. Clint served as Hatchery Supervisor, managing the day to day operations while Tanya worked in the plant. From there, they moved back to Polk County with their 2 year old daughter Hannah so that they could be close to family. Family is so important to Clint that he made the commute from Cove to Broken Bow each day to work for Tyson. “I wanted us to be close to our family and we wanted Tanya to be able to stay home with Hannah. It made it worth it because after Justin and Gabe were born we were already home,” says Clint.
In 2007 Clint with through the part time reserve class at RMCC before becoming a part time deputy for the Grannis Police Department. “That is when the law enforcement thing really started grabbing ahold of me,” recalls Clint. During this time, Clint was riding around with his brother-in-law Bo Hayes, who currently serves as an Arkansas State Trooper. Clint explains, “I loved riding around with Bo. I felt like what he was doing was important, he was trying to help protect people and make our community safer.” He served part time with Grannis until 2011 when he became a reserve with the County. Through this whole time, Clint was still working on the chicken farm. “Most reserves have a restricted schedule because of their other job, but if they ever needed me I could step away from the farm and come work,” explains Clint. Mike Godfrey, the current Sherriff at the time, approached Clint about becoming the SRO for CRSD. “He told me they wanted somebody from the area, somebody that knew the community and the families. Mike said he thought I was a good fit. I always thought, ‘why me?’,” explains Clint. In August of 2013 the school hired him on as the SRO and over the next couple of years Clint went through extensive training to become a certified SRO through the state of Arkansas.
As a SRO there are challenging days just like in any other profession, it is a difficult balance to strike trying to be create a safe environment while also caring for the students. “I love these kids, they are the reason I keep coming back to work everyday. I consider some of them friends. They have their hard days, days that I have to discipline a lot, but I still love them,” says Clint. His care for the students at CRSD is evident to anyone watching and his desire to see them do well in life and school is impactful. It goes without question that Clint is influencing lives in the school, even if it isn’t how most people expect it. “I like to think that I’m friends with most of the students here, if I wasn’t, I would be disappointed,” says Clint. His job as a SRO is more than just writing citations, it is about correcting mistakes and shaping futures. Clint explains, “Every now and then I really get to help kids out. Each time I have to write a citation, I view it as trying to help them out. I feel like I am a part of helping prepare them for adulthood. I don’t just write it because I have to, I genuinely hope that it can help change their life.”
Clint and Tanya, who now teaches at Wickes Elementary, loves the community they are in. “In my opinion, there isn’t a better place for Hannah, Justin, and Gabe to grow up. Our family is here, and the families in the schools are great,” says Clint. It is obvious that CRSD is fortunate to have someone like Clint serving alongside them as they try to help students succeed. Clint’s desire to see students flourish is unique, it is clear that families are blessed knowing that when they send their kids off to school there is somebody that is protecting them and caring for them. Clint Bell is an example of what it means to care, an example that would be worth following.