HUNTINGTON — Some familiar faces in Mason County will be recognized for their efforts to keep the highways safer.
Today (Thursday) in Huntington, the Huntington Region of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program will recognize, in total, 22 officers, six law enforcement agencies and 17 individuals/companies that have performed outstanding work in highway safety related activities during 2016.
With its emphasis on speed as well as aggressive and distracted driving enforcement, and impaired driving enforcement, the Mason County Sheriff’s Department will be honored, along with the Putnam Count Sheriff’s Department, as the Top County Sheriff Agencies. Cpl. Ronnie Spencer and Cpt. Charles Stearns, both of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department will receive Speed Enforcement Awards. Sgt. Forrest Terry, also of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, along with Cpl. Spencer and Cpt. Stearns will receive Overall Traffic Safety Enforcement Awards, as will Gabe Starcher, for his work while at the Mason Police Department.
Deana Spaulding, who was literally responsible for helping toughen the impaired driving law across the state, will receive the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Recognition Award, along with Stephanie Kinnard and Darlene Hardwick.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Department, Spaulding and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program joined forces last year to bring attention to the need for speed as well as distracted and aggressive driving enforcement on W.Va. 2 and U.S. 35. From October 2015 to May 2016, the sheriff’s department issued 323 citations for speeding along these targeted highways, with four felony arrests, 11 misdemeanor arrests and 26 drug arrests as a result of the increased enforcement. At a media event to discuss those numbers, Spaulding told those gathered, U.S. 35 and W.Va. 2 were two of the most dangerous roads she could think of in the area. She talked about the factors of driving under the influence, distracted driving and speeding, and how enforcement of these violations helps realize a common goal — saving lives.
Spaulding, is the mother of the late Andrea Bailes who was killed when a drunk driver slammed into the vehicle in which she was riding in 2011, killing the 14-year old. Andrea would’ve graduated from Point Pleasant High School last year. At the event last May, Spaulding spoke while Ellie Andrick, a then sixth-grader at Point Pleasant Intermediate School, held a photo of Andrea. Andrick is one of several members of “Andrea’s Army” which promotes awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.
The awards program is sponsored by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, The Region 2 Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Huntington Internal Medicine Group and Armstrong Cable.
Huntington Officer Joey Koher was named the 2016 WV DUI Officer of the Year, making 137 impaired driver arrests last year.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.