Vest Editorial - 09/06/09

It is gratifying to live in a community where the residents and businesses respond in such an enthusiastic manner to a call for support, particularly when those in need of support are public servants who work every day protecting the safety of others.

Dawn and Marshall Atha issued a call for help for deputies working with the Newton County Sheriff's Office just a little over a week ago. The Athas' son, Wesley, was one of two deputies wounded in a shooting incident at Jackson Lake in early August. By all accounts, Wesley's life was saved by the bullet-proof vest he was wearing. But the incident served to highlight the fact that Newton's deputies aren't wearing the best protection available due to expense. Newton's deputies currently use Level II vests, which are not designed to stop high velocity gunfire. Knowing this, the Athas decided to launch an effort to solicit funds to purchase Level III vests for all 166 mandated officers with the Newton County Sheriff's Office. Level III vests are tested to stop gunfire from a 9mm sub-machine gun and a .44 Magnum and give an officer better impact protection.

It's a tall order - the total price tag is estimated at more than $113,000. But already the community has responded in a big way. Following is a list of those who have donated to the cause:

Ann Hodges, Barbara Dingler, BB&T (Main Branch), Becky Harris, Bonnie Gilbert, Bulldog Tire Company, Call and Go Bail Bonding, Cathy Cowan, Covington News, Dan U. Aaron, David and Melba O'Kelley, Dusty Atha, Ginn Chevrolet, Ginn Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Josie Goode Sunday school class at Covington First United Methodist Church, Joy Bearers Estherian Sunday school class at Covington First Baptist Church, Kenneth G. Williams, Lance and Latrelle Cawthon, Marshall and Dawn Atha, Mary Kriedlekamp, Mary Vincent Kraft, Matthew and Ida Harris, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Tony Webb, Newton Federal, Neil and Joane Derrick, Neil Harris, Roger and Sandra Shortridge, Scott Hubbard, Spencer Boyd, Stan and Dana Hall, Susan Sweeney, Tony and Donna Harris, Trudy Harris, Walker and Rosemary Harris, and Mock Pallet Company.

So far, nearly $12,000 has been collected. Businesses giving $1,000 or more include Ginn Chevrolet, Ginn Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge and Newton Federal. In the coming weeks, the Citizen newspapers will continue to recognize those who give $1,000 or more to this effort.

Donations to this cause can be made by check payable to the Newton County Sheriff's Office and earmarked for Safety Vests & Equipment. Donations can be mailed to the NCSO in care of April Jones, 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014.