Faulkner County residents honored eight local officers who died in the line of duty during a memorial ceremony at Simon Park on Thursday. The Conway Police Department, University of Central Arkansas Police Department and Faulkner County Sheriff s Office gathered at Simon Park, welcoming the community, to honor the county s fallen officers as well as other fallen officers from across the nation.
Every year in May we join with the rest of the country in recognizing National Police Week by honoring those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities and citizens, Conway Police Chief Jody Spradlin said. This year s ceremony was the 10th year CPD, UCAPD and FCSO joined forces to honor the county s fallen heroes.
Sheriff Tim Ryals opened the ceremony by leading the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, which was followed by the FCSO Honor Guard posting the colors.
We honor our fallen officers for many reasons, Spradlin said. It s a reminder to our community that the deceased officer gave his life to protect our citizens. It is a life needlessly taken, but willingly sacrificed. It s a celebration of their life also. Much like the fallen military, we feel that those that give their life for their community or country should always be honored and never forgotten. Everyone is not willing to make that sacrifice, so we recognize and show appreciation to those that do. Spradlin and Ryals each handed roses to officers and deputies of their departments respectively one-by-one for each fallen officer. Roses were ceremonially placed in front of pictures of each of the county s fallen officers. CPD fallen officers include:
Patrolman Robert W. Bob Martin who was killed by gunfire on March 24, 1981.
Patrolman Barry Kent McDaniel who was killed by vehicular assault on April 2, 1982.
Patrolman Lawrence Ray Noblitt who was killed by gunfire on Nov. 7, 1988.
Patrolman William Will McGary who was hit by a vehicle and killed while directing traffic at the scene of a crash on Feb. 1, 2013.
FCSO fallen officers include:
Deputy Oscar L. Honea who was killed by gunfire on Oct. 23, 1914.
Deputy William E. Hathaway was killed by gunfire on Aug. 5, 1931.
Deputy Jimmy Jim Wooley died as the result of a fall while investigating a theft on Aug. 5, 2003.
Deputy Hans Fifer died from a heart attack during SWAT training on April 8, 2013. Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry shared stories of each of Conway s fallen officers. He reminisced on the years past where he played on a softball team the Faulkner Fuzzys with Martin.
He said he was thankful that Noblit painted a red truck he had and noted that while working for the fire department he would often bump into McDaniel during shift changes. That was while Conway Fire Department s Central Station was located on Chestnut Street, he said. Castleberry said he did not know McGary on a personal level but heard from many he was a great son, great brother [and] a great man.
The men and women of all police agencies in Faulkner County, Arkansas, play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Faulkner County, he said. Castleberry read aloud a proclamation on behalf of the city, which addressed the need for county residents to know and understand the duties and services of law enforcement officers.
County Judge Jim Baker said it was important to recognize these officers for their services.
With appropriate observances in which all our people may join in honoring law enforcement officers, past and present, who by faithful devotion to their duties, have rendered a dedicated service to their communities and have established for themselves a reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens. Sgt. Ray Britton said an officer falls in the line of duty every 53 hours across the nation.
To date, there have been 50 line of duty deaths nationwide, that s a 35 percent increase from the same time last year. Here in Arkansas, we have had one line of duty death to date. It took place just last week. Britton took a moment to honor Kevin Mainhart.
Mainhart served in law enforcement for more than 20 years before he was shot and killed last week during a traffic stop he made after responding to a domestic disturbance call from a home on Gum Springs Road in Dardanelle. He had stopped the vehicle because he had possible information the suspect, later identified as 42-year-old James Arthur Brown, was connected to the disturbance on Gum Springs Road. Britton also recognized three officers who died in the line of duty in Arkansas last year Miller County Corrections Officer Lisa Anne Mauldin, McCrory Patrolman Robert Aaron Barker and Sebastian County Cpl. William Pressley Cooper. Ryals said law enforcement is a unique profession.
He said the sheriff s office grieves for each fallen officer as well as their departments and their families.
We feel the pain when another department loses an officer, he said. We grieve with these departments as if we lost one of our own. The brotherhood in law enforcement is very much like a fraternity; like the bond military men and women share or athletes on a highly competitive team. We learn to trust our lives with our partners in uniform. We honor them for their sacrifice.
The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute followed by the Conway Fire Department s Pipes and Drums band performing Taps.
“It’s difficult to afford the basics, like food, rent,” added Zakiyy Medina, a security guard at the airport.
“It is un-American to be in this country, to work a full-time job and still live in poverty. That is unacceptable,” he said. “The minimum wage working at a lot of these contract companies only affords them about $22,000 a year … You cannot live and raise a family on $22,000 a year. You can’t afford housing, you can’t afford child care and since your company isn’t helping you with retirement, you can’t save for retirement.”
State Sens. Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) have co-sponsored a bill, the Safe Transportation Jobs and Fair Employment Rules or STAFER Act, that would require better pay and benefits for subcontracted airport, rail and ferry workers.
“We are attacking this effort from every front,” Ruiz said Friday. “But the truth of the matter still remains the same, Port Authority can step up and can do better.”
Newark Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad said workers had been waiting for living wages for too long and urged the Port Authority and the airline companies to raise workers’ pay now.
“You can decide to give them a living wage today, let’s do it now,” he said as he led chants of “do it now.”
“It’s their property. Any vendor on their property, (they) could tell them what to do,” added Kevin Brown, vice president of the local union 32BJ SEIU. He said after pressure from the union, the Port Authority agreed in 2014 to require all workers receive $10.20 an hour — above minimum wage. But last year they declined to increase pay to $15 an hour.
Brown said Ruiz’s proposed bill would boost wages from $10.20 to $17.98 an hour for about 10,000 subcontracted workers at Newark airport, Newark Penn Station and the Hoboken terminal. It would also require airline contractors to pay $4.27 an hour for worker health benefits and offer holidays and vacations.
“This is not going to be an easy fight,” said Booker before he was swarmed with requests from airport workers wanting pictures. “We are going to win this fight no matter how long it takes. I am committed to fighting with the workers.”
- ^ NEWARK (www.nj.com)
- ^ U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (www.booker.senate.gov)
- ^ Newark International Airport (www.panynj.gov)
- ^ increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour (www.nj.com)
- ^ Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) (www.njleg.state.nj.us)
- ^ Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) (www.njleg.state.nj.us)
- ^ last year they declined to increase pay to $15 an hour (www.nj.com)
Continued rise in water levels, public safety fears drive decision
By Christian W. Peck
Niagara County Public Information Officer
Niagara County officials will extend a state of emergency, originally set to expire Saturday, for an additional 30 days, as water levels in Lake Ontario continue to climb and concerns remain about dangers from submerged hazards on the lake, unstable shoreline banks, and ongoing flooding issues. Emergency Services Director Jonathan Schultz indicated paperwork extending the state of emergency for an additional 30 days will be filed Saturday. A map prepared by Schultz details county operations in response to the high lake levels. (See below.)
Legislator David Godfrey, R-Wilson, who chairs the legislature’s community safety and security committee, was briefed on the plan, and noted emergency orders – currently a 500-foot “no wake” zone – would be extended in five-day increments until the crisis had passed. He also aimed criticism at the International Joint Commission’s decisions earlier in the year to not let out sufficient water from dams on the St. Lawrence River, which has helped exacerbate the increase in lake levels. The IJC has recently indicated it may finally begin releasing water.
“Extending the state of emergency is essential to ensure our municipalities and especially our volunteers are reimbursed for all the hours and materials which have and will continue to be exhausted as we fight the damages caused by Plan 2014,” Godfrey said Friday. “Although the IJC is saying they will let some water out in the next week or so, the reality is they cannot without increasing the flooding down river and in Montreal. Until the downstream water subsides, which could be weeks, I believe we will continue to have record-breaking high water and more erosion.”
Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, said he was closely watching the impact of the high lake levels on the local sportfishing and tourism industries.
“We’re seeing large amounts of debris, including parts of docks, washing up on shore. These navigation hazards are caused by the IJC’s tampering with lake levels,” Syracuse said. “There are still a lot of folks coming out, but we’ve seen a significant drop over comparable periods last year – and that really hurts the economies of little communities like Olcott, Wilson, Oak Orchard, and so on.”
Syracuse urged boaters to use extra caution while fishing in Lake Ontario waters. He also noted he’s urging state and federal officials to do more to secure resources to help residents losing shoreline and suffering the effects of flooding in their homes.
“For the people whose lives are being upended, whose homes are in jeopardy, this is a disaster,” Syracuse said.
He did note the State Emergency Management Office had deployed local Army National Guard and Air National Guard troops to assist with sandbagging operations, and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office had been supplying prisoner labor to help with the task – and that these efforts had bolstered robust turnout from community volunteers.
“Everyone – fire companies, local youth, neighbors, they’re all pitching in, and they will continue to do so, but at some point they need relief, whether that’s federal and state resources, or the lake levels dropping,” Syracuse said. Legislature Vice Chairman Clyde Burmaster, R-Ransomville, did note the state government, under terms of the state of emergency, is providing equipment and supply loans to the county, was also sending in experts again this weekend to help local property owners file insurance claims.
“We’d like to see some direct aid, but we’re glad to note that the state department of financial services will be making their emergency response mobile command center available again this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Olcott Fire Co.,” Burmaster said. “This will go a long way toward helping property owners recoup some of their loss, although I’m not sure how you recover lost shoreline.”
A pair of state lawmakers whose districts include long stretches of the Lake Ontario shoreline also weighed in, vowing to continue working to obtain resources for Niagara County’s residents and county and municipal governments battling the lake. State Sen. Robert G. Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, who was in contact with county officials Thursday and Friday about the extension of the state of emergency, said he and his staff remain heavily focused on the lakeshore flooding issue, and that he was working to allay the concerns expressed by local elected officials.
“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation the flooding has left behind as it continues to impact residents, business owners and critical infrastructure across our local governments,” Ortt said. “I’ll continue to work with my colleagues at the local, state and federal level to ensure public safety and to secure financial assistance for individuals and communities bearing the brunt of this horrific flooding.”
His colleague in the State Legislature’s lower house agreed.
“During this very challenging time, I would like to applaud the efforts of local county and town officials and our dedicated volunteer fire service members for their continued cooperation combating this devastating situation, occurring along the southern shore of Lake Ontario,” Assemblyman Mike Norris, R-Lockport, said. “I will continue to work tirelessly with state officials to provide much-needed assistance to our community.”
Meanwhile, Newfane Supervisor Tim Horanburg, whose town has been hard-hit by flooding and erosion from the lake waters, said Newfane – the town that includes the hamlet of Olcott -would continue to work with county and state officials to ensure resources could get to lakeshore residents.
“The Olcott Fire Co. has served as a kind of rally point, playing host to the county sandbagging operations, the financial services mobile command center, and for state and federal officials coming to see the damage to our lakeshore first-hand,” Horanburg said. “Newfane and Olcott will continue to provide a staging ground and a central community point where we can all come together for as long as we’re needed. We just hope that’s not a lot longer for any of us.”