The Richland County Sheriff’s Office held a special ceremony Monday evening, recognizing three members of the Explorer Program who were each promoted to higher ranks.

Those honored include Ashley Canankamp, Dakota Essick, and Jacob Frazier, all of whom have been involved in the Explorer Program for the past two years.

Canankamp, a junior at the Madison Comprehensive High School, was promoted to sergeant and has always considered a profession in law enforcement. Because of the Explorer Program, she explained, “It definitely helped me when deciding my career choice and figure out what I want to do later on in life.”

Canankamp is currently taking post-secondary courses at Ashland University and hopes to pursue a major in criminology.

Jacob Frazier attends Ontario High School, now in his sophomore year. “If you would have told me two and a half years ago that I’d be standing in front of you now as a lieutenant, I would have told you all that you were crazy,” said Frazier.

He continued, “Ever since I was a little kid, this is something I’ve wanted to do, especially with my dad as a cop.”

Dakota Essick is a sophomore at Madison Comprehensive High School. He hopes to attend college and become a deputy in the S.W.A.T. team.

“Overall I think [the Explorer Program] is a great program. When I first joined I was really shy, but I never had any regrets coming. This is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said the newly promoted sergeant.

Former lieutenant with the program, Josh Yates, was also recognized for his five years of service in the Explorer Program. He hopes to become an advisor with the program someday, he stated.

“We’re really proud of our Explorer unit here and we wanted to have a nice ceremony to commemorate all of their hard work and dedication in getting promoted,” stated Maj. Dale Fortney.

Deputy and advisor of the program, Gary Kiener, explained, “The purpose of the Explorer Program is to give the kids an opportunity to experience a career in law enforcement. The students get trained in vehicle stops, crash accident stops, crime scene investigations, and so on.”

Other advisors with the program include Chaplain Derrick Martin and Vaughn Yates.

The Explorers Program is a division of the Boy Scouts of America and is available to those (boys and girls) aged 14-21 who have an interest in law enforcement. The program meets from 7 to 9 p.m. every Monday at the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, which is located at 597 Park Avenue East.

Kiener said that the program is still looking for people to participate. Those who are interested should call 419-774-3571 or email Kiener at gkiener@richlandcountyoh.us.

For those who would like to show support for the Explorer Program, there will be a special event, dubbed, “Hallowicked,” which is an self-guided tour that allows daring visitors to walk through a selection of spooky scenes.

Hallowicked’s season premiere is Saturday, Sept. 28 and runs every Friday and Saturday until Nov. 2.

The cost per ticket is $15. The event lasts from 7-11 p.m. each evening and will be held at 1148 Cairns Road, Mansfield.

Members of the Explorers Program will help park cars and oversee security. A portion of the event’s proceeds benefit the program, raising funds for needed equipment and trips.

For more information about this event, go to www.ohiohauntedwoods.com.  

I'm a native of Mansfield. In 2010, I graduated from Ontario High School and then attended OSU-Mansfield, where I majored in English. I'm glad to be able to use my degree in a field that I enjoy.