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MAHONING VALLEY Honoring safety forces



Published: Mon, September 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The event will include safety forces from the tri-county area.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- They save lives, protect the peace and place themselves in harm's way daily for the good of others -- and Saturday has been set aside to say "thank you."

Law enforcement agencies, firefighters and citizens from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties will come together from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Youngstown Playhouse for a showing of appreciation. Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey and Struthers Mayor Daniel Mamula have issued proclamations declaring the day Safety Forces Day.

"It is my honor to have the power through mayoral proclamation, to declare Oct. 5 as Safety Forces Day," said McKelvey. "This not only recognizes the courage of our safety forces, but also remembers those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and allows the community an opportunity to say thank you."

This will be the third year for the appreciation day celebration. It started as an appreciation event for Youngstown police, but has grown each year to ultimately include the entire area.

What's being planned

The Rev. Inez Ellis, event organizer, said those attending the free program can expect a day full of activity including guest speakers, music, dance and short stage skits. She said prepared food donations are being accepted so breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served.

The Rev. Mrs. Ellis said scriptures from the Bible were her main inspiration in organizing the program, but personal relationships and experiences also played a key role.

Mrs. Ellis' father was a coal miner and volunteer firefighter. Her grandfather was a sheriff in Marion, Ala., around 1925 and was shot to death in front of the courthouse in a racially charged incident after he stopped a group of locals from making illegal liquor.

Mrs. Ellis' older brother, nephew and daughter-in-law were or are police officers. She also has a son who is a deputy sheriff in Mahoning County.

"I have pretty good reasons for wanting to have a thanks and appreciation day," she said. "These safety forces put their lives on the line and we as a community need to get our heads together and uplift their spirits."

Many children will be creating thank-you cards that show how a police officer or firefighter might spend their time away from the job. Mrs. Ellis said the appreciation day might help to bring back some of the lost respect and admiration kids once had for police officers.

"Years ago, if a policeman walked down the street tapping his nightstick along a fence, kids would come from everywhere excited and hollering 'hey officer.'" she said. "Now that same officer is likely to hear a lot of dirty words. That has to change."

Mrs. Ellis hopes the event continues to grow as it has over the last several years, and eventually become a nationwide celebration.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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