‘Casino Night’ for Fallen Officers, Literacy Council

Annual fundraiser set for Jan. 23

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

Crittenden County Leadership and Southland Park Gaming and Racing are inviting everyone out to the 4th annual “Casino Night” fundraiser. As in years past proceeds will benefit the Fallen Officers Memorial at Worthington Park, but this year, a portion of the “house” will go toward the Crittenden Council as well. The event will once again be held, appropriately enough for a casino-themed event, at Southland. Set for Saturday, Jan. 23, the fundraiser will benefit the ongoing effort to maintain the monument to all of the public service officers from the community that have given their lives in the line of duty over the years. Since its inception in 2013, the Casino Night events have raised more than $50,000 for the memorial fund. Participants will have the opportunity to compete for prizes in a number of different gaming-style tournaments, including poker, blackjack and slots. Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded for each tournament. The entry fee includes the slot tournament. There is an additional entry fee for the other tournaments. In addition, the event will feature a silent auction live music and more. Cocktail “happy hour” begins at 5:30 p.m., Registration starts at 6 p.m., and the first tournament kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Inspiration for the memorial first came in the wake of the May 2010 shooting deaths of West Memphis Police Sgt. Brandon Paudert and his partner Officer Bill Evans, gunned down by two members of the extremist group Sovereign Citizens during a “routine traffic stop.” The incident served as an inspiration to the West Memphis Chamber of Commerce’s Crittenden County Leadership group to “do something” to honor their sacrifice. “Our community still mourns this loss,” Crittenden County Leadership President Jerry Fenter said at at last year’s event. “We won’t forget the great sacrifice these men made while protecting the citizens.” The idea quickly expanded to include other public servants from West Memphis and the surrounding community that have lost their lives protecting the people living in it, including West Memphis firefighter-in-training David Eason, Arkansas State Trooper Sgt. Glen Bailey, State Trooper Mark Carthron, and West Memphis Police Officer Michael Waters, who all died in the line of duty. The memorial will be placed at Worthington Park in West Memphis. “This is something we chose to do to remember and honor all of them,” said Fallen Officers Memorial chairman Wayne Croom. “The memorial will serve as a daily reminder of the inherent courage of all men and women in uniform serving our entire community.” This year, the Crittenden County Literacy Council will also benefit from the casino night event. The Literacy Council operates out of the ASU Mid-South campus and offers free classes in adult education, ESL, and GED. For more information about the Casino Night benefit contact Holmes Hammett at the West Memphis Chamber of Commerce at 870-735-1134 or via e-mail at wmcoc@wmcoc.com.

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