Sister cities provide much needed relief

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

Newfound Brookhaven and Lincoln County “relatives” continue topitch in to help the community provide assistance to HurricaneKatrina evacuees staying in the area.

On Saturday, Park City, Ill., Mayor Steve Pannell and other cityofficials arrived in Brookhaven along with an 18-wheeler trailer ofitems donated by residents of the northeastern Illinois community.Pannell, a native of Booneville, Miss., said the board of aldermenunanimously approved a resolution to adopt Brookhaven and to sendthe truck, which was “jammed packed from the bottom to thetop.”

“We’re a small community with a big heart,” Pannell said aboutthe community of approximately 6,700 citizens.

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While touring a local Red Cross shelter, Pannell commented onsimilarities in the two communities’ willingness to help those inneed. He was impressed with the relief effort and itsorganization.

“It’s phenomenal what you guys have done in a short period oftime,” Pannell said. “Everything’s coordinated the way it shouldbe.”

Pete Karlovics, Park City’s city attorney, said he learned ofBrookhaven’s situation while negotiating a 911 contract for thecity’s new courthouse.

The city chose Government Capital, represented by Brookhaven’sDavid Sullivan, for the contract. Karlovics said he lostcommunication with Sullivan during the negotiations.

When communications resumed, Karlovics said Sullivan told himabout the damage in Brookhaven as well as citizens’ desire to helpevacuees from the hurricane. The attorney said he relayedinformation to the mayor and the project got under way.

Karlovics said incidents like hurricanes are far removed fromeveryday life in Illinois. He said the relief effort and visit toBrookhaven was a way to “personalize” the community’s response.

“People like the idea of reaching out and talking to the peoplewho’ve been directly affected,” said Karlovics, who will make areport on their visit during Park City’s next board meeting.

The Park City group plans to make the 16-hour return trip homeSunday. Pannell, a license commercial truck driver, expects toreturn Friday with other city officials and another truckload ofsupplies.

“They should be filling it as we speak,” Pannell said Saturdayevening.

The truck with supplies from Park City delivered its load to theAmerican Red Cross distribution warehouse. The warehouse is servingas a distribution point for 13 shelters in six area counties.

Two communities that share the Brookhaven and Lincoln Countynames are also responding to help their sister communities inMississippi.

Last week, Brookhaven, New York, sent an ambulance toBrookhaven, Miss., to assist in responding to medical emergencieshere. Local officials said the vehicle would be put to use whereever needed.

A radio station campaign in Lincoln County, N. M., raised over$4,000 so far for two local charitable organizations helpingKatrina evacuees.

After being unable to contact a radio station in the storm’shardest-hit areas, Harold Oakes, general manager of Walton Stationsin New Mexico, said a call to Ken Hollingsworth at WBKN inBrookhaven put him in contact with Bro. Jerry Durr at BrookhavenOutreach Ministries.

On Friday, Sept. 3, Oakes said he went on the air to telllisteners about the campaign to help Brookhaven.

“By 11:30 Saturday morning, I had received $1,406 in donations,”Oakes said in an e-mail message.

Also, Oakes said two Ruidoso, N.M., night club owners heardabout the campaign and scheduled events at their businesses.

The live music events were scheduled for Saturday, with covercharges and 10 percent of gross receipts slated for the reliefeffort. Oakes said an auction and other activities are also part ofthe effort.

“I hope to have a significant donation to send to Brookhavenearly next week,” Oakes said.

Also over the Labor Day weekend, Oakes said the campaign raised$615 for the Brookhaven Food Pantry and another $1,000 forBrookhaven Outreach Ministries. Oakes said those funds were mailedWednesday.

“We have gained so much as a community and personally from thisexperience so far,” Oakes said.

On Wednesday, Oakes said the Rev. William Matthews was a gueston the radio program. Oakes relayed the story of resident SarahBrooks coming to the station during the radio interview.

“Sarah Brooks is blind, confined to a wheel chair and was on herway to dialysis, but she stopped to donate $50 from her SocialSecurity to help the people of Brookhaven,” Oakes said. “Shebrought tears to the eyes of everyone in the station.”

Oakes said a Ruidoso attorney heard of the donation and came bywith a $1,000 donation to the effort.

Oakes downplayed his role in the campaign and praised the peopleof Lincoln and Otero counties, N.M., for their desire to help.

“I have no delusions about how long this recovery and relocationeffort is going to take and plan to try to keep our communityenergized to continue helping Brookhaven recover,” Oakes said.”With all the national coverage of all the bad things that havehappened, it is very helpful for us to know that we are helping andthat the people we are helping are just honest, hard-working peoplelike us, living in a community like us, recovering and workingtogether to help others like we hope we would do in theirplace.”