Eighty-six years – that is the combined time Police Chief Ricky Middleton and Electrical Manager Wesley Carpenter devoted to the Hot Springs Village POA. On the afternoon of June 1, 2022, Hot Springs Village celebrated the retirements of these two individuals who dedicated a lifetime of service to the Village. It was a bittersweet afternoon. While we will be happy to see both enjoy the many opportunities retirement can afford, it was also sad to see them go.

General Manager, Kelly Hale, and Villager, Jim Patton, shared their thoughts with us, while Board Chair, Joanie Corry, presented plaques to both retirees.

Kelly Hale, General Manager of Hot Springs Village said, “We are here to celebrate a retirement.”

Hale stated, “Chief Middleton began working at the POA in 1980 in the Construction Department. In 1985 Mr. Middleton was certified as an EMT and transferred to the Police Department. In May 1987 he graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy and was deputized. Later that year, he was promoted to Sergeant and Assistant Shift Commander. In 1994 he was promoted to Lieutenant and in 2015 became the full-time Police Chief of the Village.”

Continuing, Hale expressed, “Chief Middleton has served our community here in Hot Springs Village for forty-two years. I want to let that wash over you for a minute. He has been a member and a partner of our community for forty-two years.”

Villager and friend of the Chief, Jim Patton, said that he and the Chief met around six years ago when they started the Citizens’ Police Academy. This organization was the brainchild of the Chief. It was set up to support the police officers and their equipment needs. Having raised over $150,000, the Citizens’ Police Academy is still continuing with its fundraising efforts. Patton said, “We are going to continue going until the police have everything they need. The Chief was instrumental in communications for our organization. He was instrumental in just being a friend and Chief, we will always remember you. You are a great, great man. Thank you.”

Chief Middleton responded, “It has been a great ride. Forty-two years have passed quickly. I appreciate the people I have met, the friends I have made. I am still going to be around the Village. You are still going to see me. I am not leaving. I appreciate your support and I’d like to congratulate Wesley too, for his forty-four years. We started…Wesley had been here two years when I started and we were truly in the ditches together, putting in water and sewer and building manholes. We go back a long way. I appreciate every one. Thank you.”

Hale said, “The next person we’d like to recognize is Mr. Wesley Carpenter. As you heard the chief say, ‘forty-four years.’ Once again, let that wash over you for a minute. Wesley began working at the POA in October of 1977. The Village had only been here for seven years. Think about that. Our Public Service Department is construction labor. During his first years of work, Wesley taught the installation of water and sewer pipes and fittings, building out manholes, and operating heavy equipment like backhoes, dozers, and forklifts. In 1990 he was promoted to the Electrical Manager, supervising all facilities and equipment throughout Hot Springs Village. From there Wesley became the Electrical Construction Superintendent. Wesley has served our great Village here for forty-four years. Wesley, on behalf of not only the POA, but the Members, we want to thank you for everything that you have done. You’ve been a major contributor to this Village throughout your entire life and it will not be forgotten. We’d like to present you with this plaque.”

Jim Patton said, “I am also a member of the Public Works Committee. Guess who I get to bother quite a bit? Guys like Wesley. I met Wesley probably about eight years ago. He was working in electrical. He taught me a little bit, here and there.” Patton said that all of the staff came out to use the Milo Simulator trainer. Wesley was nonchalantly watching the younger guys who did not score very well when they used Milo. “Wesley steps in and hits them all, right on the dime. He was good. Then he walked away and just smiled. Wesley, congratulations.”

Wesley Carpenter responded, “This is kind of a bittersweet moment for me. This has been my home for about forty-five years and I just kind of lived and breathed the Village. I’ve been basically on call twenty-four/seven. If something happened, I responded. Later on, we got crews trained so I didn’t have to come out so often. But still, this has been my home and I am going to miss all of you. Thank you.”

Hale finished, “I’d like to thank everyone for joining us today. These celebrations are not taken lightly by me, throughout my entire career at UPS and then being part of the Village now. The employees are the most important thing when we look at what they do for us. You heard Wesley talk about being on call twenty-four/seven. The same thing goes with the Chief and his team. I don’t think a lot of our members realize the amount of sacrifice that a lot of these employees put in and to have a combination…I want you all to think about this for a minute…these two gentlemen, eighty-six years of service to the members here in this community. Phenomenal dedication. Phenomenal contribution. I just hope and wish that you enjoy your retirement. I know it’s going to be tough because it lasted all of nine months for me and I had to go do something else. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank the Board of Directors for being here today…This is what communities are about is celebrating when we have these life moments and being able to get together and do it as a team. Thank all of you for coming tonight. Thank you two gentlemen for your service…Mr. Patton, as always, thank you for your help. Ms. Joanie, appreciate you as always. Enjoy yourselves. Thank you all.”