HAWLEY - Hawley’s finest joined together with the community Tuesday evening for some fun, laughs and sharing of memories in Bingham Park.
Across the country, National Night Out was a time where the public recognized those in blue who serve and protect their towns and saw that while they have a job to do, they too are people who happen to have a different profession.
Hawley’s own officers were especially shown to be human, as four citizens shared stories of a few officers during the first “story slam.”
A relatively new member of the area, Michelle Oram moved to the area from a town in Massachusetts that she said is similar Hawley, as everyone knew one another. But, with a father who was an officer, as well as uncles her name was known growing up.
It was Oram’s father though, that she told about, Edward Joseph Oram who enjoyed jazz and was able to imitate the late comedian Jackie Gleason. It was her father’s love of dancing, at home and while working as a crossing guard that he pleased many and was known for.
The police of Hawley, Oram said do an “amazing job” as they are “always watching” even though it may not seem like it, but they are actually like the “bears hidden in the forest.” Hawley, reminds Oram’s friends of the Andy Griffith Show as the police department is relied on and respond when needed. Oram said she wanted to thank the police who keep the streets safe from “crime in this hostile world.”
The winner of the evening, Jill Carletti shared a more personal tale of a time when she moved to the area as a child and at one point planned to run away. So, she packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a blanket, a hammer and some nails with the idea of building a fort somewhere after having an argument with her parents.
Only so far down the street, however, the young Carletti felt alone and when she sat near some bushes and cried, a local police officer asked if she was okay. Today, Carletti doesn’t recall the officer’s name, but she does remember sensing that he cared and helped her realize she was fine, later ensuring she returned home safely.
Often times, Carletti said all police officers aren’t recognized for the “positive impact they make on our lives” as the encounters she has had with officers were “meaningful moments” that “made a difference to me.”
In 2014, Carletti’s father was in a car accident when on his way home from work. The accident wasn’t easy on the family, but she noted that it would’ve been much worse had he not made it. The State Police officer who had rescued her father was Corporal Bryon K. Dickson II. A month later, Cpl. Dickson was slain by Eric Frein in an ambush.
Sadly, Carletti said she was unable to thank the trooper for saving her father.
Carletti said, no matter how an officer has helped an individual, it’s necessary to express appreciation for their assistance.
A longtime resident of Hawley, Susie George acknowledged Chief Danny Drake’s continued support and assistance in ensuring the Hawley Library’s 5k race is safe while participants make their way through town.
But one year, although George couldn’t recall where her wallet was, it wasn’t until she received a call from Officer Aaron Bertholf that she knew for sure that she had indeed misplaced her wallet. Both “reassuring and pleasant,” Bertholf brought George her wallet which was a relief she said, as it held so many elements to her life and despite the cash being gone, the rest still remained as well as Bertholf being the one to return it was the “icing on the cake for that day.”
The final memory sharer, Jane Varcoe concluded her career with the Hawley Police Department after 10 years, with many memories and stories able to tell. Working for the department, Varcoe called a “privilege and honor.”
Tuesday Varcoe told of a time when on a winter evening a few years ago, an officer, who she later revealed as being Bertholf was patrolling the streets while driving the department’s new Dodge Charger through town when, he drove up Chimney Ridge Street, which happens to be a dead-end. It was there that on the narrow street that when driving a brand new “beautiful clean car” that Bertholf became stuck in the mud when trying to turn around. In an effort to escape the dirt, Varcoe demonstrated how Bertholf hit the gas more, causing the wheels to spin and spin, but to no avail but rather sinking to the point where mud was above the wheels.
A tow truck was called to pull the new Dodge Charger from the mud on Chimney Street. Varcoe said one truck wasn’t enough, however, and a second tow truck was needed. In the end, the brand-new Dodge Charger was covered by mud as the wheels had splashed. Tuesday, Varcoe laughed, while Bertholf smirked and said she had embellished that there was only one tow truck. To which Varcoe responded that there were in fact two tow trucks. That night, Bertholf said was “bad.” Varcoe ended by saying, “Hallelujah for Hawley’s police department.”
In the end, George was runner up and Carletti won a three-month membership to Lake Region Fitness.
The message of the evening though, Bertholf wanted all to know, is that if people see something, they should say something. In Hawley though, since the department is not fulltime, if there is an issue people should call 911, instead of leaving a message for the Hawley Police Department since someone may not be there.