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6B Times-Herald Xtra   |  Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Times-Herald Xtra

Public safety shares food and fellowship Record turnout for annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon

BY CLAY NEELY

clay@newnan.com For the second time, hu nd reds of members from Coweta Cou nty’s numerous city and c o u n t y p u bl i c s a fe t y depa r t ments gat hered together. But this time, it was under much happier circumstances. It was a record turnout for the 20th annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon, held at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on T hursday, according to organizer Norma Haynes. The annual event carried a slightly more significant tone this year, coming off a highly tense weekend that drew the eyes of the world upon the city of Newnan and Coweta County. Nearly every member of public safety participated during last weekend’s politically charged rally that saw hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Newnan. The city escaped the highly emotional event with a little less tha n a dozen arrests and no property damage. Officials cited the success of 42 different agencies working together for a common goal – keeping the public safe. Haynes, who heads the New n a n- Coweta P ub lic Sa fet y Com m ittee, said she always enjoys the annual luncheon, but felt this year’s event was timed perfectly. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “It was a day of celebration because we’re so blessed to have the dedicated people we have serving in all areas

of public sa fet y. Having the ability for them to come toget her a nd enjoy each other's company today was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.” T he a n nua l event wa s orga n i zed by t he Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Committee members, and the luncheon was free and open to all divisions of public safety – including law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services and the court system. The meal was provided by Warden Bill McKenzie with the Coweta County Prison, and a long table covered in every kind of dessert imaginable was a l so ava i l able t h a n k s to m a ny g iv i n g lo c a l Coweta residents. “This year, we needed three extra tables to fit all the deserts,” Haynes said. Coweta 91 1 Director Jay Jones said the event is always a morale boost for those in public safety. Having served in a number of public safety roles during the course of his career, he said it’s a great way to honor those who don’t seek the spotlight. “ We’re i n t h is business because it’s a calling to serve your community,” Jones said “But it’s great to live in a community where the public supports us. It was very apparent last week.” Jones sa id as t he county keeps growing, t he nu mber of publ ic safety personnel mirrors that trend, so the ability to sit down and enjoy fellowship with fellow firstresponders is a blessing. “ We c u r rent ly h ave

PHOTO BETH NEELY

Sgt. Justin Hogan shares a handshake with Deputy David Hill during the 20th annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday.

around 850 members on our radio system, and that doesn’t include everyone,” he said. “But you could tell from the event today how much we’re growing. There wasn’t an empty seat there and that doesn’t include the ones who couldn’t make it.” Major Ma rk Fenninger with the Coweta County Sheriff ’s Office said such an outpouring of local support for law enforcement isn’t a common commodity in many communities. “For years law enforce-

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ment has been bashed, but if they had the same support that we see in our community, it really makes your speechless,” Fenninger said. “It makes your heart feel special and we’re very gracious for what we get.” Haynes was honored for her unoff icial role as the “mother of publ ic sa fet y ” i n Coweta County, but she said it’s the hard work of the Public Safety Committee that makes the event such a success. “I couldn’t do any of

this without their help and support,” she said. The Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation was formed in an effort to bring awareness to the com mu n it y rega rd i ng the hard work that first responders do in Coweta County. As public safety agencies are trying to work more with less, the foundation also helps raise money to purchase necessa r y item s for bot h police and f ire departments that isn’t in their budgets.

Last year, the group raised more than $30,000, which helped fund a multitude of projects a nd support for those serving in public safety across the county, including CPR monitors, tourniquets for patrol, headsets for communication officers and training mannequins. Along with purchasing equipment for first responders, the group has also raised money for scholarships and helping financially strapped public safety personnel.

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