HORNBEAK, Tennessee – The Northwest Tennessee legislative delegation held an appreciation dinner for all area law enforcement on Sunday.
The event was organized by state Representative Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) and was open to members of law enforcement and their spouses.
Grills’ invitation to the event acknowledged the environment that law enforcement has been working under recently.
“Over the past few months, it seems that our law enforcement community has really been under extra pressure. We want them to know how much they mean to us,” the representative said.
Grills concluded with the short mantra that speaks to the support for law enforcement, “We back the blue.”
Grills told The Tennessee Star that about 60 members of law enforcement had attended over the course of the 3 to 6 p.m. event.
In addition to Grills, event sponsors included state Representatives Andy Holt (R-Dresden), Chris Todd (R-Madison County), Chris Hurt (R-Halls) and Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) as well as state senators Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) and John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).
Republican primary winner for House District 76 Tandy Darby was also an event sponsor. Darby will face off against an independent in the November 2020 election to fill the seat vacated by the retiring Holt.
Also in attendance was House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and state Representative Lowell Russell (R-Vonore), all the way from Middle Tennessee and Eastern Tennessee, respectively, enabled by Russell being a pilot.
Long-time Tennessee Department of Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker who lives in the area also attended the gathering.
Event hosts were Mike and Kathy Hayes, owners of the Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake in Hornbeak, where the catfish dinner was held.
For five generations, the Hayes family has been an outfitter, offering fishing and hunting experiences on and around Reelfoot Lake and now have the resort facility as well.
Mingling with event attendees, both Hayes shared plenty of stories about how the lake was formed, the area’s abundant wildlife including the majestic American Bald Eagle, the on-site butterfly garden and even a bit of politics.
Hayes told of how in the 1950’s and 60’s duplicate election ballot boxes were fabricated so that the original could be thrown in the lake, while the ballots from the fabricated box would be counted.
Despite all of the elected officials, there were no speeches, political or otherwise.
Grills did take a moment, however, to introduce and recognize 24-year-old Christian Jones. Jones used his stimulus check, received from the federal government to help people cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, to host his own catfish appreciation dinner for the officers of Lake County a few months prior.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.