Lincoln County resident Bill Beam has spent his entire life enjoying the opportunities the county has to offer.
His home, located in North Brook, sits on the acres of land his grandfather once owned.
“It’s home for me,” he said. “I like history a lot, and I really enjoy Lincoln County. It’s quite unique from any other place in the world.”
Growing up, Beam attended West Lincoln High School, where he graduated in 1968. After high school, he was hired as on-air radio talent for Cherryville’s radio station, WCSL and Morganton’s radio station, WBRM. When not on the air, Beam could be found working as a mechanic alongside his father as well as at Cherryville’s Chevrolet dealership.
While he enjoyed both jobs, Beam found his true calling in 1975, at the age of 25.
“I had never thought about joining the law enforcement until Harven Crouse asked me if I’d like to become a deputy,” he said.
Beam is not the first member of his family to serve Lincoln County’s law enforcement department.
“My grandfather on my mother’s side was sheriff of Lincoln County from 1936 until 1950,” he said.
For the next 30 years, Beam rose through the ranks from officer to chief deputy. One of his biggest achievements has been developing the county’s Community Oriented Policing Program.
“Community Oriented Policing involves looking at each section of a county as a neighborhood, and we need to police that neighborhood by their needs, because all sections of the county are very different,” Beam explained. “Community policing basically follows the idea that we’re the doctor and you’re the patient, and asks ‘where does it hurt?’ For example, if you have a lot of bank robberies in your district, people are going to be really concerned about that. However, people in another neighborhood might not be concerned about bank robberies, but other things that are happening in their neighborhood. So, we’ve got to make sure that we police with these values that allow us to respond to these citizens and deliver our services. We treat these folks like customers, and not like John Doe citizen that doesn’t have any say. They do have a say, and citizens are our customers, so we have to treat them as such and be responsive to the needs of the community. “
Beam has also taught courses across the Carolinas on Incident Command, a strategy that government uses to set up the best way to use its resources and to dispatch resources to solve problems. He has found that law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency workers are frequent users of the strategy.
In 2005, Beam decided to retire from the police force. Beam was unable to stay away from law enforcement for too long, however. In 2010, Sherriff David Carpenter asked Beam to return as a part-time employee.
“Now, I mainly do administrative duties and planning for the agency,” Beam said. He currently holds the title of Chief Deputy Emeritus.
Since his initial retirement in 2005, Beam has dedicated his energy toward transforming his grandfather’s dairy farm into a horse farm. In addition to raising horses, he also farms and sells his own hay.
“I just enjoy horses,” he said. “I enjoy raising babies and watching the baby colts play out in the pasture in the springtime.”
According to Beam, his love of horses dates back to his childhood.
“When I was 10, there was an accident near our home where a child was killed on a bicycle, so there was going to be no bicycle at my house,” he said. “And we lived way out in the country, which is about 13 miles from Lincolnton. You’re a little isolated without transportation.”
Beam believed his father felt bad about not allowing his son a bicycle, so he presented Beam with an alternative mode of transportation.
“My father wouldn’t get me a bicycle, so he got me a horse,” he said. “Since then, I’ve really enjoyed horses and doing horse activities.”
For Beam, horse activities include riding and competing in horse shows. Over the years, Beam and his family have attended competitions in Tulsa, Okla., Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Texas and throughout North Carolina.
“We show (the horses) locally a lot, but occasionally, we’ll compete in a national competition,” Beam said.
Beam’s hometown also offered him a chance at love. For the past several years Beam said he has been happily married to Lincolnton native, Debbie Beam. He was hesitant to share the exact number of years he and his wife have been wed.
“To tell you the truth, I can’t say; she’ll get mad at me and I’ll be in trouble,” Beam laughed. “But, I can tell you Debbie is a peach. She’s good to me and is a great mother and grandmother. She enjoys the horse business just as much as I do.”
The couple has raised three sons and a daughter together, all of whom now have children of their own. Two of the sons still live in Lincoln County, while Beam’s daughter and other son have relocated to the Atlanta area. Altogether, Beam is the grandfather to 11 grandchildren, ranging in age from four to 13.
“I like sharing my passion for horses with my grandchildren,” he said. “Not all of them like horses, but most of the grandkids do, and some even compete in shows.”
With the primary election only a few months away, Beam is confident that he is an excellent candidate for the county commissioner position.
“Being a county employee for so long, I understand how the system works,” he said. “We have issues we need to address, and if a person is not willing to be a part of the change, that person doesn’t have a right to gripe about it. I see this position as an opportunity to offer my knowledge and abilities to help my home county grow and prosper.”