COLUMN: We’re proud of the community we serve

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

As we move forward into the New Year, your Ellis County Sheriff’s Office wants to recognize the community it serves – and how we saw that community come together as one when the need recently arose. We saw this occur the day after Christmas, when a tornado struck homes and buildings in northwestern Ellis County.

Before we as first responders could even get out to the scene, the tornado’s victims were already out of their own homes and helping each other. We couldn’t be more proud of these people, who were extending a hand to someone else even as they themselves needed a helping hand.

It was tough to see the area that had been struck by the tornado. There was a lot of damage and devastation and, although there were injuries, we as a community are blessed there wasn’t anyone here who lost their life. Our continued thoughts and prayers do go out to those communities where there were people killed by the tornado after it left our area.

We’re sure that each one of us knows at least one person, if not many more, who were impacted by this weather in some manner. What’s been heartwarming is seeing how our community has come together through people volunteering, donations being made and other outreaches being conducted to help get everyone back on their feet. Everyone we’ve talked to has told us they’re rebuilding. That’s the kind of spirit we have here in Ellis County.

As we move into the rebuilding phase, your Sheriff’s Office urges people to use due diligence in determining whom their contractors will be. Ask for references – and actually check them. You can also check out the contractor with the Better Business Bureau. Don’t let yourself become a victim of a scam on top of dealing with the tornado’s aftermath.

We’ve talked before about getting to know your neighbors and how that’s a key element of having a safe and well-informed community. From the looks of it, many of you have done just that because that’s how you knew how to help each other out after the tornado. We saw that community spirit showing Thursday evening at a neighborhood party where everyone had gotten T-shirts with the saying, "The neighbors that tornado together stay together." The way we see it, ya’ll rock!

As always, the Sheriff’s Office asks that you help keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy all of our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week from your Sheriff’s Office.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.