By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
I dropped the ball last week, and I need to own it.
The organizers of the SawGrass benefit bluegrass show got in touch with me in plenty of time. Maybe too early considering how disorganized I can be at times. But that isn’t their fault, nor is it the point.
The point is, I had the information well in advance of the show. They did what they were supposed to do. But somewhere along the line I became confused about the dates. I also failed to add the event to my calendar properly, or set any reminders.
Because of this, I thought the event was upcoming when it was actually last weekend. I should have had a preview in last week’s paper, but I was planning it for this week.
This is no one’s fault but my own. I made a mistake and I failed to deliver on a promise I made.
For that I apologize to the family of Jerry and Flo Bryant.
Jerry, or Chainsaw as he’s known among friends, is a volunteer firefighter with 22 years on the Haye’s Crossing – Haldeman Fire Department. Like other firefighters, he’s willing to put his life on the line to save others, and rush into fires every day. But he realized the worst nightmare of any homeowner when his own home caught fire in early March. The house on Trumbo Hill, on the Carter and Rowan County lines, caught fire in the morning hours and when Bryant returned home around 11 a.m. he found the home filled with smoke and his mother, Flo, inside the home and disoriented from smoke inhalation.
While they both escaped the fire safely, despite requiring treatment for smoke inhalation, and the Olive Hill Fire Department arrived within minutes on a mutual aid call from the Haye’s Crossing – Haldeman department, the home was a total loss.
The organizers of Rudy Fest helped put together a benefit for the firefighter last weekend – the one I failed to cover – with donations accepted for the replacement of their lost items and, hopefully, the eventual replacement of their Trumbo Hill home.
Donations were solicited at the show via a QR code that directed folks to the GoFundMe page.
That fundraiser, accessible at https://gofund.me/c291d10b, has currently raised just over $6,600 for the family, or not quite a third of their $20,000 goal.
If you aren’t comfortable with online donations, you can also make contributions at the Citizens Bank, 114 West Main Street, in Morehead. Just ask to donate to the Jerry and Flo Fund.
You can also contact anyone associated with RudyFest or Jerry Bowen with the Haldeman Fire Department.
Non-monetary donations can be dropped off at their temporary home at 980 Tunnel Cut Loop in Morehead.
Anyone who has experienced a fire knows how tragic the event can be. If you have extra to give, we encourage you to help out. Family heirlooms and photographs can never be replaced, but Jerry and Flo got out with the most important thing – their lives.
We as a community can help them replace the rest. The GoFundMe goal of $20,000 isn’t going to be enough to fully replace everything lost, but it is a nice start. If anyone wants to help push it over that goal, the family will get that money as well.
It’s a good cause, and I’m sorry we dropped the ball on the coverage.
In addition to the good folks at RudyFest who jumped in to organize the show, I’d like to recognize the bands who donated their time to the fundraiser. Those bands include Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Dave Adkins, Keith Prater & Lacy Creek, Hammertowne, Don Rigsby & The Fly By Knights, Charlie Woods & Deep Hollow, Billie Renee & Cumberland Gap, and Sammy Adkins, as well as emcee Colonel Dreyden Gordon, of WGOH Radio.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org