BUCKHANNON – Ever since he turned 15 years old, Cpl. Rocky Hebb has dreamed of working for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
In December, the longtime Upshur County sheriff’s deputy and Tucker County native will finally realize that lifelong goal.
Sadly, that means he will no longer be at Buckhannon-Upshur High School as the Prevention Resource Officer, or PRO, helping students and teachers.
During a going-away party on Thursday at the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, Hebb said he has worked in the sheriff’s department for 10 years and has served as the Upshur County Schools PRO Officer at Buckhannon-Upshur High School for more than six years.
“I am going to work for the West Virginia DNR,” Hebb said. “I will primarily be working in Pocahontas and Randolph counties.”
Hebb said working for the DNR is something he’s wanted to do since he was a teenager.
“The opportunity arose to test for [the position], and I decided to take the test,” he said. “Through a lot of prayer and decision-making with my wife, we decided to take the step.”
As he moves on, Hebb praised the people with whom he has worked over the last decade.
“There is a great group of guys working here at the sheriff’s department,” he said. “They will do anything in the world for you and for anybody. The administration has always been great to me. The Upshur County citizens have always been great to me.”
“Everybody from the board of education, the superintendents, everyone at the board office, the high school and the elementary and middle school – everyone has just been good to me, including the students,” Hebb added.
As a PRO officer, Hebb said he took a great deal of pride in his main duty of keeping students and staff safe.
“From students to staff to everyone – promoting safety was my number one thing,” he said. “As far as the ‘resource,’ I wanted to be a resource for all students – not just when they had a problem – but also when things were going well, so I could have fun with them and establish a positive relationship with them. The ‘officer’ is when I would have to conduct law enforcement duties in the school. My main role is to show them law enforcement officers are their friends – we are not the enemy.”
“I wanted them to realize they can talk to us at any time and we would do anything in the world for you,” he continued.
Hebb says he’ll miss interacting with students and staff.
“The people – that is what I will miss the most,” Hebb said.
However, working for the DNR appeals to him because it will afford him the opportunity to be out in nature.
“I like to fish and enjoy being out and seeing the country,” Hebb said. “I like everything that has to do with nature itself. Those are the things I am really looking forward to.”
One of Hebb’s hobbies includes playing music.
“My wife and I play music all the time at a business establishment in Randolph County called the Gandy Dancer,” he said.
But, above all, Hebb said his most-loved hobby is cooking.
“I love to cook,” he said. “I love to grill – and grilling steaks is my favorite. If I wasn’t in law enforcement and if I didn’t have a career in music as well, I would definitely have my own restaurant.
“I would call it Papa Rocky’s,” he said, laughing. “Cooking is totally relaxing for me.”
Hebb said he thinks Upshur County has wonderful people in it.
“The students shine bright. The staff and administration shine bright. The law enforcement agencies care about everyone here in the county, and they are not here to just answer calls; they want to establish a positive relationship with everyone. I’ve noticed Upshur County, in general, since I have been here, just has outstanding West Virginia citizens.”
Hebb’s decision to leave the county means his K-9 officer, Buck, who has served for four years, will be retiring as well.
“Buck is a black lab/pointer mix,” Hebb said. “They retired Buck, and the Upshur County Commission and the Upshur County Board of Education graciously allowed me to take possession of him.”
“He was a drug detection dog and was not aggressive at all,” Hebb added. “He tried to locate any drugs and acted as a deterrent for drugs. That was a key thing here in Upshur County.”
Hebb said during his retirement years, Buck will spend time playing with Hebb’s two other dogs.
“I hope he lives a long, happy life,” Hebb said.
Another entity in Upshur County Hebb offered kudos to is the media.
“You all have always been good to me as well,” he said. “I have made friends with everybody, and I want to include the media as well. They have always been good to me and said really good things about me. Thank you all for everything you do.”
Upshur County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Kelley said Hebb is a good officer and a good friend.
“I will miss him,” Kelley said at Hebb’s going-away party Thursday.
Upshur County Sheriff David Coffman said he’s watched Hebb blossom as an officer.
“I have worked with Rocky and watched Rocky,” Coffman said. “He has been a great officer and a great resource for Upshur County. He always wants to go the extra mile. When he had the opportunity to go to the high school several years ago, we had a long conversation about that. He had been hesitant to accept the PRO officer position because he was used to working the roads and with the guys.”
Coffman said he and Hebb sat in the office and discussed the opportunity.
“He finally decided to give PRO officer a try, and from that point forward to now, he has done nothing but great things for the school and for the kids,” Coffman said. “As sheriff, I hear praise for Rocky from everybody — from the kids to the teachers, the superintendent and the BOE.”
Coffman said Hebb will be missed.
“When school was in session, he was always there,” Coffman said. “During spring break, Christmas break and summertime, he would always come back and work the road and answer calls for service. He has always been available and volunteered to get the job done. He is one of a kind. He will be missed.”
Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said the PRO program places certified West Virginia police officers who are also certified Prevention Resources Officers in local schools.
“The officers maintain an office in the school and are on duty a minimum of 35 to 40 hours per week. Officer Hebb was a sworn officer assigned as a law enforcement officer, law-related counselor and a law-related educator,” Stankus said. “In addition, Officer Hebb has worked in collaboration with the school and the community as a resource for safety and security issues.”
Stankus said Hebb was an amazing asset to Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
“He was and is a man of respected integrity, and his positive energy is contagious, especially with the students,” the superintendent said. “He helped countless students and their families, he went out on calls after hours, and he helped teens in crisis. He built relationships and was a trusted student advocate. People like Officer Hebb are rare treasures. His impact crossed all economic and age differences.”
Stankus said she found Hebb to always be optimistic.
“He had great impact on the adults as well as the children of Upshur County,” she said. “We always told him he was a ‘Rock Star’ with his amazing voice and constant smile. Rocky Hebb will never be forgotten in Upshur County Schools.”
B-UHS Principal Eddie Vincent echoed Stankus’ sentiments for Hebb.
“Buckhannon-Upshur High School will certainly miss Rocky Hebb,” Vincent said. “His positive presence and rapport with students and staff will be a challenge to replace.”
Vincent said he felt Hebb worked hard to provide a safe and orderly environment in Upshur County Schools.
“The impact of having a PRO officer at our school was evident during our school’s sendoff for Hebb on Wednesday,” Vincent said. “Students and staff are sad to see him go.”
Upshur County Schools Student Services Director Jodie Akers said Hebb has always gone above and beyond with his duties in Upshur County Schools.
“Corporal Rocky Hebb has always promoted a positive law enforcement presence at all our schools in Upshur County,” Akers said. “He always took to heart his job as a PRO for B-UHS and for the school system.”
Akers said Hebb is professional, friendly, supportive, encouraging and respected by all because he is a likable person.
“Most importantly, people see that Rocky cares about his position as a PRO,” Akers said. “We were blessed to have [him] as part of our team. Rocky, you will be missed.”
Cpl. Dewaine Linger will step into Hebb’s position as PRO officer at B-UHS, while Cpl. Rodney Rolenson will soon become the PRO officer at B-UMS.