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Many lump-in-the-throat moments at officer banquet

Retired officer Barry Edstene presents his grandson, Brandon, the “Operation Pullover Award” during Tuesday’s “Officer of the Year” banquet at the New Castle Elks Lodge.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Brandon Edstene was not yet born when his grandfather, Barry, was serving in law enforcement – first with the Henry County Sheriff's Department and then for 20 years as a New Castle police officer.

So it was a poignant moment, indeed, when the younger Edstene accepted the award for being "Operation Pullover Champion" Tuesday night from his grandfather during the annual "Officer of the Year" banquet hosted by the New Castle Elks Lodge.

"You just don't know how proud I am to do this," the elder Edstene said to his grandson. "Keep up the good work."

The award was just one of many lump-in-the-throat moments during an event in which Elk's Club Lodge 184 Exalted Ruler Jon Sullivan praised all officers in attendance for their efforts as "the warriors" against crime and the "peacekeepers" for the entire county.

Officers of the Year honored during the event were Eric Jackson for the city and Jordan Pruitt for the county.

Jackson was presented with the top award – the framed "Smith and Wesson 38 special masterpiece" gun – for his efforts in the past year.

"I kind of shocked," said Jackson, who will celebrate his 11th anniversary as an officer in just a few days. "There's a lot of guys who deserve it besides me. I'm humbled and very appreciative."

Guest speaker was Henry County Circuit Court III Judge David McCord, who said the officers could never be thanked enough for what they do on a daily basis.

"You work in the face of danger every day," McCord said. "You catch h*** for everything. There's always an excuse these days. Back when I got in trouble, they called my mom and dad and excuses didn't work. The world is just a lot different. You hear things like 'I don't have to follow that law, because..."

McCord said the combination of officer bravery and dedication to community makes Henry County a safe place.

"You're going into the dangerous situations and we get the paperwork after it's done," McCord said. "The way you do your jobs, 99 percent of the time, it doesn't seem dangerous when you do it. It's amazing what you have to put up with. You can even get shot sometimes, right?" McCord said, looking in the direction of an officer who was shot in the line of duty.

"The second part of it is you treat people with a servant's heart. That's even more important. You make way more difference in people's lives than I do," Judge McCord stressed. "This is a safe community. You are the reason we have a safe community."

Mayor Greg York also praised the officers and lifted up the memory of former New Castle Police Chief Brad Catron, who died last year. 

"You get treated terribly," Mayor York said. "Kicked, cussed, spit upon, called every name in the book – and still do your job respectfully. I'm proud of you. It is truly a pleasure just to be associated with you."