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Fundraiser set Friday for Sontag firefighter

Sherman Ervin never wanted to change his Sontag Fire Departmentnumber from 11.

He has a very specific reason.

“He won’t change his number because the chief is No. 1, and he’sNo. 11 because he’s the one that stands by One,” said SontagAssistant Chief Kenny Paul Barber.

But it looks like No. 11 needs some people to stand by him now, ashis second round of throat cancer has him under the weather to saythe least. So his brothers and sisters at the fire department areputting together a fundraiser to help him offset the costs of theexpensive treatments.

The fire department is selling chicken plates in the Ramey’sparking lot in Monticello on Friday, June 25, with advance ticketsavailable from department members, but that’s just the outerindicator of the dedication they have to Ervin and his wifeDebbie.

“They’ll help you in any way they can, they always have,” saidfamily friend Marie McWilliams, adding that when her father and hersister both died of cancer, the Ervins were there. “They helpedwith benefits for us, and it’s time for the community to give backto them.”

Ervin was also an integral part of the fire department until hishealth put him too far down, Barber said.

“He’s one of those that when his health was able he was alwaysthere, it doesn’t matter what the call was, he was just a valuedmember of the fire department,” he said. “I’ve known him all mylife, and he was always there, he always helped you out.”

McWilliams said Ervin is not only a dedicated friend andfirefighter, he is also a laid-back guy who enjoys his friends,hunting, and a good joke. She said one of those jokes was his ownversion of “The Apprentice” when their friends would hunt on herland in Simpson County.

“When people went out to hunt and didn’t come back with meat, he’dfire them. He kept us in line,” she said with a laugh. “When it wastoo cold to where he couldn’t come, we’d call him and tell him whodone what, and he’d fire them from home. He’d keep me cause I’dcook, but if the guys come in without it, he’d fire them.”

It’s that kind of wit that endears Ervin to his following.

“He’ll make you crack a smile, he’ll make you laugh, he’ll tell youwhat you did wrong, or what you should have done, I don’t know,”said Barber. “(The stories) all kind of run together.”

And McWilliams said Ervin is holding it together the best he can inthe meantime.

“He’s weak, but he’s okay for what he’s going through, but justweak,” she said. “He’s not getting out, he basically just stays in,but when you go over there, he’s going to crack a joke or whatever,he’s not just down.”

Anyone interested in a chicken plate or just donating to the causeis invited to call Barber at 601-669-6054 or McWilliams at601-587-4971.

“He was one of those lean-on-me firefighters, and now he needs tolean on his fire department,” said Barber.