Gov. Nathan Deal changed the normal schedule of events at the 26th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout near Glennville on Thursday evening by signing legislation recently passed by the General Assembly.
“(One of these pieces of legislation) is a bill to allow those who have retired honorably from the Department of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Corrections to keep their sidearm,” said Deal, adding that a law-enforcement barbecue was a good place to sign the bill. “We do this for other law-enforcement agencies, and it’s appropriate that we do it for them. Now let me ask the members of the General Assembly who are here to join me.”
Deal sat at a table on a sheltered stage and was joined by six state legislators, including state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. The other two pieces of legislation pertained to agriculture.
The legislators, Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Attorney General Sam Owen, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., a dozen county sheriffs, county commissioners and city council members were among the scores of elected leaders who took part in this year’s cookout. They were far outnumbered, however, by the crowd of law-enforcement officers and other first responders.
Georgia Department of Corrections board member Wayne Dasher, who hosted the event, said he and the late Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles started the cookout in 1987 to show their appreciation for local law enforcement. The event now is supported by nearly 100 gold and silver sponsors.
“Whether it’s Newtown, Conn.; Boston, Mass.; or West, Texas, the first responders are always local responders — usually local law enforcement,” said Barrow as he thanked Dasher for his friendship and members of law enforcement for keeping Americans safe.
Barrow and Kingston arrived a little late, having voted in Congress earlier that day before flying home to Augusta and Savannah, respectively.
“It’s always good to get out of Washington,” Kingston told guests, then thanked local law enforcement for protecting the public. “I am glad to see the Senate did one thing right this week by protecting the Second Amendment, (which gives us the) right to protect ourselves.”
Brig. Gen. John Hort, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, also spoke. He talked about the relationship Fort Stewart has with local law enforcement and, as a joke, challenged Deal to an arm-wrestling match.
Jill Trower, Neil DeLoach and Allison Sikes performed country music as attendees dined. Wayne County Commissioner and chef Jerry “Shag” Wright shared his recipes for Cadillac rice and Brunswick stew, which he cooked in enormous caldrons.
“Cadillac rice starts with 45 gallons of water, 40 pounds of rice, 40 pounds of de-boned chicken, 20 pounds of cubed mushrooms, 20 pounds of Vidalia onions and one gallon of Texas Pete,” said Wright, who also shared a recipe for Brunswick stew before asking Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles to join him for a photo in front of his trailer-sized smoker, which was filled with smoked chicken.
Nobles talked about recent burglaries in Long County, noting his office had caught a suspect who allegedly had been stealing refrigerators and heat pumps from vacant homes. He also talked about the wildfire of 2010.
“We took out a lot of people on bed sheets,” he said, explaining the urgency to get the elderly and infirm out of the path of the fire. “I’m glad it turned out well. Nobody got really hurt even though one of our firemen broke his leg.”
Nobles invited the public to support a fundraiser called “Fishin’ for a Cure” at Beards Bluff Campground on the Altamaha River on April 27. Proceeds will benefit three local children who have cancer, he said.
Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson touched on the similarities between law enforcement and the military, saying sons tend to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. He noted that Nobles and Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes both are sons of former sheriffs, and Anderson said his own son is a deputy.