While many choose to spend their Saturday mornings laying around the house, the City of Roy was buzzing with activity.
Roy takes the first Saturday in May to honor a hometown hero — this year was Pierce County Sheriff Deputy Daniel McCartney — and clean up the town. Over 50 members from 555th Engineer Battalion (a.k.a the “Triple Nickel”), the Lion’s Club, city councilmembers and around a dozen Roy residents came out to volunteer to clean up the city.
Roy regularly partners with Col. Chris Becking and Lt. Chelsea Watson of the Triple Nickel for events where volunteers are needed.
“Without these two and their troops it would be hard to do all this,” Roy mayor “Anthony” Rawlin McDaniel said.
Volunteers scraped the weeds and extra dirt out of the sidewalk, did landscaping around the apple tree, well sites and city hall and painted the fire hydrants around town.
The 50-plus Triple Nickel volunteers all came of their own volition and were excited to help out their small town neighbors.
“I came to give back to the community,” said one such volunteer Maxwell Wurtz. “That’s what we’re here to do, serve and help people.”
Col. Becking sees volunteering with Roy as an opportunity for the citizens to see the soldiers working and thanking them for an action that directly helps them, versus just thanking them for their service.
“There is so much we do with the citizens of Roy and this is another opportunity, another thing we get to do,” Becking said.
Roy police chief Darwin Armitage saw the event as a time to build friendships and have a good time.
“It’s about being a part of something, not apart from something,” Armitage said.
Volunteers met at city hall at 8 a.m. to discuss assignments and start their work for the day. However they were not the first ones there. Jeff Gehman and Chad Unruh had been out since 2:30 a.m. preparing a BBQ feast for anyone who turned out for the day.
Gehman has been barbecuing since 1972 and often comes out to cook for events.
“I just love the work, I’m in my element,” Gehman said.
Gehman, Unruh and Gehman’s wife Lisa had been preparing for this day for three weeks. Throughout the day they cooked over 240 pounds of meat and Lisa had prepared 60 pounds each of homemade Southern potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans.
All of the food was free, Gehman said he would not charge, “not for our heroes.”
While the sprucing up of town was a beneficial and productive part of the day, it was not the main event. After lunch a ceremony was held in honor of McCartney, who was fatally shot during a foot chase after a home invasion call in January.
On the side of Roy City Hall was a Hometown Heroes sign. Under the sign hung three pictures of hometown heroes, one of them covered. During the ceremony honoring McCartney, his wife and three sons did the honor of unveiling a smiling McCartney.
Around one hundred servicemembers, city residents, state representative and friends and family of McCartney came to honor his memory. As the curtain was removed there was a brief moment of silence as the crowd took in McCartney’s smiling face upon the wall.
Clay “Willy” Williams, founder of Heroes Promise, saw this ceremony as an excellent way to bring the community together. He pointed out that not many people these days regularly get together and talk to their neighbors.
“What better way to come together than to remember the fallen,” Williams said.
Coordinated with Hometown Heroes Day is Spring Clean-Up Day. LeMay and Pierce County Refuse donated dumpsters for citizens to bring up to one pick-up truck full of trash and yard debris.
Opportunities like these events show the city wanting to improve to make it a better place for all current and future residents.
“It shows the city giving back to our citizens. Every good city should stand behind their citizens,” McDaniel said.
This was also the first year that Pierce County coordinated one of their many shredding events with Roy’s Spring Clean-Up Day.
“People wait all year long for this,” Roy Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Dearinger said. “We asked for an extra container this year.”
Unfortunately this might be the last year of the garbage containers due to issues in the ability to donate to the city, according to Dearinger.