A COMMUNITY IN UNITY was on display Saturday for Community Appreciation Day near Lincoln. The event brought citizens and area first responders together, including Benton County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Ehlers and K9 Billy, who delighted many of the youngsters.


The recently established Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, a 501(c) non-profit organization, hosted a Community Appreciation Day on September 30 at Knox Enterprises, 23644 Hwy 65, giving children and families the chance to meet real life heroes in a non-threatening environment. More than 2,000 people attended and an estimated $5,500 was raised to help support the needs of the Sheriff’s Office.

First responders on hand included Benton County deputies, representatives from Warsaw/Lincoln Ambulance, Air Evac, Missouri State Highway Patrol, military personnel and the Warsaw Leathernecks. Firemen from three fire districts brought fire trucks, the SWAT Team brought the Bearcat, and there was an Air Evac helicopter. Children were delighted by the bounce houses, trackless train and petting zoo. Adults enjoyed raffles, a silent auction and pie auction, plus everyone enjoyed music from Bill Roberts and Jim and Darlene Hayes.

“Many people were saying that we needed to do something to help the Sheriff’s Office, so we formed the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The Community Appreciation Day was our debuting event,” said Carrie Rieman, president and founder of the organization. “We will provide resources to help support the Sheriff’s Office in the following ways.

(1) Improve staffing by providing funds for additional deputies and/or augment current deputy salaries; (2) Provide equipment to improve the safety and effectiveness of the sheriff’s deputies activities; (3) Provide community education classes, the first of which, an internet safety class, has already been held; (4) Provide additional funding to help relieve the eventual cost to Benton County taxpayers for the construction and maintenance of a new Benton County Jail and Sheriff’s Office or Justice Center; (5) Aid in training for Sheriff’s Office personnel.”

Rieman said that their goals also include buying protective vests, video equipment and other necessary items. About $400,000 will be needed to carry out all of these plans, the majority of which will come from state and federal grants, and from other organizations throughout the nation.

Sheriff Knox stated there was overwhelming support from the community for this event. It was better than he thought since there were other activities going on in the county at the same time.

“The role of the non-profit that hosted this fundraiser is to reach out across the nation for support,” said Sheriff Knox. “It is a group of passionate people who want to help make a difference. They are stepping up and doing something about it. They bring their individual expertise to a group that has the ability to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. It pains me to pester local folks for support and the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office will bring some relief to taxpayers. They will plan a couple of events a year for local people who want to be involved, but its main goal will be to reach out to business and celebrities who are known to donate to non-profits. This local organization is separate from the Sheriff’s Office, but I will be involved in their efforts.”

There were some happy raffle winners at the Community Appreciation Day. An Electra Beach Cruiser bicycle, donated by Truman Lake Bikes, was won by Charlene Yatzley; a Custom Ruger 10/22, donated by Ozark Armory, was won by Gale Autry; and the 50/50 Raffle was won by Megan White. About 50 local businesses donated and supported the event in many different ways.

Jackman’s Meat Processing donated a hog and all of the processing and cooking of it plus two other hogs donated by Mark Nolte. Lonnie Taylor organized food for the event which included pulled pork, beans, chips and deserts provided by the community. Taylor said they had stocked some store-bought cookies in case they were needed, but there were plenty of homemade cupcakes and cookies brought in, plus pies donated for the pie auction.

“I volunteered to be in charge of food because I wanted to support the sheriff,” said Taylor. “I saw people on both sides of the aisle working to support this event and the sheriff. There was a great outpouring of help. I’m from St. Joe, and it is in a mess with out-of-control robberies, drugs and other problems. Sheriff Knox is trying to keep this from happening here in Benton County. He was a huge help in preparing for the event and helped clean up afterwards as well. The food line was open at about 4:30 PM with about 1,000 people in line and there were still plenty of people in line at 6:45 PM.”

Suzie Broderson, an agent with Farmer’s Insurance, attended the Community Appreciation Day and couldn’t believe it had such a large turnout.

“It was a fantastic idea,” said Broderson. “There was not only a lot for kids to do, but the needs of all were considered, and golf carts were provided to help people get around. There was a 911 booth so attendees could update their emergency contact information, and even a booth where you could give information about livestock; in case some got out on the road and law enforcement needed to find the owners. I wouldn’t have turned in information like that if someone hadn’t told me about it at the event. Some of my calves got out of their enclosure once and a deputy sheriff finally found out from my husband that they were ours. I enjoyed visiting with people and thought with all that is going on in this world, resulting in some bad comments about those in law enforcement, it is important to have children know these people are not bad, they are the good guys.”

Carrie Rieman reported the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office will be assisting with a Missouri MO Chips event with child identification on Saturday, October 21, during Heritage Days Weekend. She said that there will also be a Benefit Concert at Truman Lake Opry to provide protective gear and equipment for the deputies of the Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, October 28. Current performers include Jim Hayes, Darlene Hayes, Ron Hodges, Jim Buttrey, Johnny Spaugh and Bill Roberts. Special guests are Chris Curtis, John Sharp, Anna Herod and Ginelle Esry. You can find out more about the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on their Facebook page.

Judy Kramer | BentonCountyEnterprise.com