Thursday, April 17, 2008
Luncheon applauds city’s rescue efforts
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen held an appreciation luncheon for fire, police, street and utility workers Tuesday of last week as a way of saying “thank you” to employees.
Office staff served the lunch, which was prepared by the employees of the utility department and the city and served by staffers.
It was a well-deserved meal for a job well done in the recovery of all victims in an April 3 house explosion on Cuba Street. Prior to eating, employees enjoyed a slide show of photographs taken during the 15-hour recovery effort where many agencies pulled together to find the last victim of the explosion alive, the miracle baby, Olandrea Shanelle Elliott. The lives of her grandparents Joe and Alma Elliott and cousin Michael Elliott were saved in the early hours after the explosion.
A slide show set to “America” sung by the late Ray Charles provided a patriotic theme for the occasion.
In opening remarks, DeBerry praised city employees who did not rest nor sleep until all the occupants of the home were found.
“We are especially proud of what you did and the effort of the entire community working together,” he said. “We applaud what you did and what you do all the time.”
Alderman Russell Johnson echoed the mayor’s remarks in prayer where he offered “special thanks for what you did for the miracle child.”
DeBerry said in a separate interview that the intense rescue and recovery effort by the community shows what the city can do when everyone is focusing their energy on a single event.
“I saw something there we don’t see every day - a coming together of the community,” he said. “We are light years away from where we used to be in terms of community. Everyone was in there pulling out scrap - some without equipment.”
No one was injured during recovery operations.
Alderman-At-Large Tim Liddy said many citizens do not realize how all shifts from the departments came out to help “whether or not they were on the clock.”
Special guests attending the luncheon included Lisa Green, resident agent in charge with the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Lorinda Jones, special agent with ATF, from the Oxford office, guests of Jimmy Warren with the sheriff’s department.
Warren said he and chief Robert Pearson directed traffic for the first three and a half hours of the rescue operation trying to keep onlookers away from the intensely packed and busy scene on Cuba Street.
“I was out there holding the flashlight for the incident commander (assistant fire chief Rodney Crane) until 4 p.m.,” he said.
Others participating in the luncheon included fire chief Kenny Holbrook, who directed the fire fight and search, assistant fire chief Rodney Crane, who served as incident commander for the operation, and emergency response coordinator for Marshall County Hugh Hollowell and Pearson. Representing the street department was Jairus Leasure.
Connie Mason served as protocol coordinator and city office staff and Felicia Autry with the zoning department helped set up and serve the meal.
Information technology director Ken Robinson prepared the slide show.
Dozens of department employees enjoyed the luncheon in their honor.
Praises from governor
Last week local agencies involved in the fire fighting and rescue efforts were recognized at the state fire academy with a resolution of commendation from Gov. Haley Barbour.
He praised the many who responded to the April 3 house explosion and the tireless 15-hour removal of debris in the search for Olandrea Elliott.
Agenies and individuals commended by Barbour included: Holly Springs Fire Department paid and volunteer workers; Holly Springs Police Department; Marshall County Sheriff’s Office; volunteer firefighters from the Red Banks, Byhalia, Waterford, Potts Camp, Victoria and Barton fire departments; Holly Springs Utility Department; Holly Springs City Works Department; Marshall and DeSoto county K-9 Units; Neil Bain and Sons Construction; Deputy State Fire Marshals/Investigators David Borgognoni, Mike Ivy, and Jonathan Owens; Mississippi Insurance Department LC Gas Division Inspectors Bo Thompson and John Gambell.
The commendation was for their “teamwork, service and dedication above and beyond the call of duty in protecting the life and property of the citizens of the State of Mississippi.”
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