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The Cynthiana Democrat to highlight those men and women who serve the community

By Kate Darnell

I held close to many assumptions before I became a reporter.

Assumption #1: Police officers spend their time eating donuts and drinking coffee.

Assumption #2: Firefighters pass the work day by  posing for calendar shoots and playing with Dalmatian dogs.

Unfortunately, as a society, we have painted these pictures of law enforcement officials that are not true.

Whenever anything bad happens in Cynthiana (think car accident, house fire, person trapped on a roof, etc.), I tend to see the same people.

Harrison County Fire Chief Charlie Carson always seems to be positioned in the best spot to direct traffic. I’ve even seen him direct helicopters landing on a highway.

Joey Nelson visits the accident scene first in an ambulance, and then later comes back in a fire truck. Maybe he has a twin.

Deputy Dean Hutchison and Det. Paul Olin are there with clipboards in hand to document the accident.

And there’s Sgt. Wilbur Gross, always on hand with the necessary tool in the trunk of his cruiser. I still don’t really recognize Wilbur out of his police uniform.

While none of us want those “bad things” to happen, when they do (and they inevitably will) it’s almost like a reunion.

A family reunion of emergency workers, if you will.

Anybody want to order t-shirts?

Some of the sheriff’s deputies, police officers and fire fighters I’ve known long before my work began at The Cynthiana Democrat.

I graduated alongside Cynthiana Police Chief Ray Johnson’s son, Chris.

Another 2004 Harrison County High School graduate was Cynthiana firefighter David Bell.

Firefighter Robbie Lyons continues to serve my family’s plumbing needs and firefighter Scott Nelson mowed my grandmother’s yard for years.

But many of the officers and fire fighters I first met because I had to ask them this, “Can you tell me a little bit about the_________ (insert “bad thing” scenario)?”

And after all the questions were asked and answers given, I’ve gotten to know a little bit about the men and women that respond to all the “bad things” in Harrison County.

Sheriff’s deputy Nathan Gasser loves dogs but hates chasing after a particular dog that likes to follow runners down Highland Avenue.

Cynthiana fire chief Jay Sanders traveled hours to another state just to buy a hunting dog, makes best friends with strangers and will, without a doubt, do anything for anybody.

Deputy Nathan Olin makes the craziest expressions with his eyes and is a vivacious reader.

Cpl. Walter Tapp has a young daughter that is his spitting image. It’s led me to believe Walter would have been a pretty girl.

Sheriff Bruce Hampton was born on April Fool’s Day and once sported a mustache. Some things should be left in the past.

It’s these items of info that allow you to see the officer or firefighter beyond the uniform they wear.

Jay Sanders frequently tells me about his family, especially his sons Jackson and Jacob.

I’ve taken more photographs of Scott Nelson’s boys than I have my own family members.

Dean Hutchison is getting married very soon.

Police Det. Alan Judy has triplets. Wow.

The entire crew at the Sheriff’s department has offered me marriage advice and tips for planning a family budget.

And then, I’ve seen them at work.

I’ve watched David Bell rescue a cat named “Smokey” from a burning house.

I know that Wilbur Gross has won all kinds of awards for getting drunk drivers off the streets.

I’ve watched numerous county firefighters work to put out a fire in the middle of the night.

I’ve witnessed Deputy Chris Shields handcuff and arrest men and women on drug charges.

I’ve watched firefighter Wagner Perrin direct a crew of firefighters working to put out a grass fire (against strong winds) in the furthest reaches of the county.

For me, it makes a difference knowing these emergency personnel as people.

It makes me feel safe.

And knowing them for more than their uniform, badge or special hat/helmet, demands respect. They’re normal people, with families, hobbies, goals and aspirations, but they continue to put their lives on the line each and every day for you, me and this entire community.

And here at The Cynthiana Democrat, we want you to know those officers and firefighters as well as we do.

Last week marked the first of what we hope to be a long list of emergency personnel highlighted in the paper’s ‘Serve and Protect’ corner.

We hope by seeing their faces and knowing some personal information about the police officer, Sheriff’s deputy or firefighter, you’ll begin to become familiar with those individuals that keep our community safe.

So forget the typical donut-eating-police officer and calendar-posing-firefighter stereotypes.

While I have seen donuts at the Sheriff’s office and I have taken photographs of many posed firefighters, I’m still looking for a Dalmatian.