Carroll County's Local Heroes are honored

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Nine individuals and a group of youngsters were honored last week as local heroes by their friends and neighbors.

For the second year, the American Red Cross and the Carroll County banks honored those who have made significant contributions to their communities in a variety of ways.

Carroll County Heroes are Rocky Whitely, Dr. Charles Horton, Suellyn Fry, Josh Morrell, Lrae Wintercorn, Ray Birchfield, Sally Phillips, Jan Brown, Don McClung and all of the members of the Kings River Homeschooling Association 4-H Club.

State Rep. Phil Jackson and state Sen. Randy Laverty were on hand for the breakfast program at the Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center in Eureka Springs.

Both men congratulated the heroes on their efforts and service to their communities.

Sponsors for the event included Arvest, the Bank of Eureka Springs, Community First Bank, First National Bank of Berryville and the First National Bank of Green Forest.

Representatives of sponsors of individual awards made the presentations.

In the military category, local real estate agent Don McClung of Berryville was honored for his service in the Special Forces in Afghanistan.

He received three standing ovations as his award was announced and presented by a representative of the Berryville Volunteer Fire Department.

McClung is a Green Beret and member of the National Guard, served as an operations sergeant major and celebrated his 56th birthday in Afghanistan.

He dedicated his award and a U.S. flag he received when he returned to this country to "my special hero, my mother (Margarite McClung of Springfield, Mo.) and to all mothers who have given such great sacrifices for our country."

In the Good Samaritan category, Jan Brown received her award from Linda Boyer of KTHS radio, who also served as mistress of ceremonies.

In addition to her service as school counselor at Eureka Springs, Brown volunteers her time with her therapy dog Chester, and provides needy families in the county with Christmas meals and gifts.

Berryville City Council member Sally Phillips was also honored as a Good Samaritan.

Laverty called her "Saint Sally" for all of her service to her community. In 2001, she was honored with the Chamber of Commerce Community Humanitarian award.

She has served with the Downtown Merchants Association, the Business and Professional Women, the Berryville Library Board, and the Saunders Museum Board.

She also had a role in the committee that made the Berryville Community Center a reality.

Her award was presented by Bob Moore, publisher of the Carroll County Newspapers.

In the Firefighter category, Ray Birchfield of Eureka Springs was honored as a hero. His award was sponsored through a donation of Ruby Matthew.

In October of 2003, former firefighter Dick Deeg lost control of his motorcycle and had a head-on collision with a car on Highway 23, south of Eureka Springs.

In less than a minute, Birchfield arrived on the scene. He quickly called for help, then fought down the fire that was engulfing the fallen rider.

Birchfield kept up life support measures as he waited for medical assistance. Despite the terrible nature of the wreck, he maintained a professional demeanor.

The two men had worked together as firefighters, and they were neighbors, which only added to the emotional difficulty of performing first aid measures.

In the Community Impact category, Rocky Whitely of Eureka Springs was honored for his work in the Wildflowers Chapel, reaching out to the people of Carroll County.

His award was sponsored by Best Western Inn of the Ozarks and presented by Terry Berry.

Wildflowers Chapel food pantry now furnishes sustenance to more than 150 families from all over the area each month. His clothing shop provides both new and used warm clothing to those who would go cold in winter.

In the 911 Dispatch category, Lrae Wintercorn received recognition for her recent efforts when a car struck two young girls in Green Forest.

A very upset and emotional call came in to 911 from a witness. Wintercorn calmed the caller and gave guidance on scene safety and stabilizing the injured.

Meanwhile, she was able to get a description of the vehicle while dispatching the police, First Responders, and the St. John's EMS.

Wintercorn is also a first responder, and a volunteer fire fighter for the South Carroll County Fire Department. She is currently taking classes to become certified as an EMT.

Her award was presented by a representative of Tyson Foods.

The Young Good Samaritan award went to seven-year-old Josh Morrell.

Josh and his grandfather Gerald Morrell have an especially close bond. So when Josh heard his grandfather's tractor running in a hollow, he went to see what grandpa was doing.

The boy found his grandfather pinned under a boulder he had been moving with the tractor.

Gerald had been trapped, hurt and bleeding, for hours, and might not have been missed until dark if Josh had not come to check on him.

Although Josh has breathing problems which require medication, he kept himself under control while he ran back uphill to the house for help.

Family members were able to free Gerald, who returned home after being airlifted to the hospital.

Josh's award was presented by a representative of Carroll County Chrysler.

Another winner in the Community Impact sector was Dr. Charles Horton, a family practice physician on the staff of St. John's Clinic-Berryville.

He has served as director of the OARS clinic since its inception in 1993. The Ozarks AIDS Resources and Services (OARS) clinic brings help and hope to people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

This assistance includes medical treatment and support services. The combination of medical and humanitarian services greatly improves the quality of life for patients at the clinic.

Dr. Horton has been nationally recognized for his expertise in dealing with HIV/AIDS and for his volunteer efforts to combat the disease.

His award was presented by Tim Lehr of Wal-Mart.

In the Firefighter/Medical category, Suellyn Fry was honored because she contributes to the community in many ways.

She is a volunteer firefighter with the South Carroll County Fire Department, an emergency medical technician, and a safety/training officer.

She is described by a colleague as "always ready to lend a hand, do a class, train people, visit at the hospital, or be a birthing coach."

From the smallest cut to life-threatening injuries, Suellyn is always on the scene. She sets a strong example, and she has inspired many people to enter the medical field, or to become first responders. She has saved lives and changed lives.

Fry also serves on the 911 Supervising Board. She is currently teaching an EMT class for North Arkansas College at the South Carroll County Fire Department.

Her award was sponsored by Ruby Matthew.

In the Service Group category, the members of the Kings River Homeschooling Association 4-H Club were honored.

They range in age from five to 11, yet they worked out a "grown-up" way to make a difference.

They placed marked cans in participating businesses around the county, and set up accounts at local banks for donations during the month of May last year to help tornado victims in Missouri.

Clare Doss is credited with thinking up the project. Other club members were Kelli Albrecht, Ty Albrecht, Maria Eby, Joy Duran, Elizabeth Hale, Mary Michael Hudgens, Jack Hudgens, Monica Reuter, Caleb Spann, Emalie Spann, Samuel Spann, Rebecca White and Klara White.

The club raised almost $1,000, which they presented to the American Red Cross in a ceremony at Community First Bank.

The award was presented to the club by a representative of Berryville Ford.

Most of the recipients credited "others" in assisting with whatever effort was honored in their thank-you comments.

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