Three years ago, Anna Huthmaker, of Huthmaker Violins, heard that due to budget cuts, the police department quietly decided that instead of cutting any amount from a service to the community, they would do away with their annual awards banquet. This was unacceptable to her. From there, Anna decided she wanted to do something, and now in its third year, has officially titled her efforts, Project Appreciation. The goal is to raise enough money to give the police a nice awards banquet.
Chief Randy Belcher with Officer of the Year Crystal Findura
Initially, she approached downtown businesses because she knew they all felt like she did. “The police department provides such wonderful support each and every day and they deserve a day to celebrate their successes,” she says.
As word got out, residents, businesses outside the downtown, community organizations, and even the Mayor and two Council members have contributed.
This year, Anna also heard that Alf, the Duluth police dog, had some needs that weren’t covered in the budget. So, she decided she would seek more funds to make sure Alf was taken care of. It turns out that a whole lot of people want Alf to be happy, healthy and protected, too.
“One of the best things is that, since we began doing this, the Police Department has invited donors to the banquet. It is such a great event and we get to hear about all of the wonderful, brave and scary things that our Duluth Police do that don’t make it into the general media,” says Anna. “It gives us even more appreciation for them. My hope is that each and every police officer understands that we do this because we genuinely appreciate them. It really is a gift that comes from the bottom of our hearts.”
The Duluth Police Department conducted its annual Awards Luncheon Wednesday, January 25th at the Duluth Public Safety Center. Also present were local business owners and community leaders without whom this tradition would continue to exist. Chief Randy Belcher said, ‘Because of the generosity of this outstanding community we are able to have this event.’ This year, $3,500 was raised to honor those who have served ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ in the Duluth Police Department.
Uniformed police, supervisors, support personnel, and civilian employees were honored. Commendations were presented to those whom performed in outstanding ways over the past year.
Among the honorees were:
Other honorees included Lt. Jacquelyn Hood, Records Clerk Lea Elam, Lt. Chuck Wilson, Radio Operator Amber Snavely, Radio Operator Chris Quarles, Crime Scene Tech Jennifer Olds, and Detective Teria Russell, Officer Andy Brandenburg, Officer Donnie Diggs, Officer Joe Dang, Officer Ian Kopacz, Sgt. Shawn Hamlin, Capt. Mark Hunter, Det. Heather Kish, Det. Fran Foster, Det. Rick Thompson, Officer Rickey Porter, Officer Sharon Lee, Cpl. Scott Parrish, Sgt. Scott Smith, and Officer John Gladen.
Donors for this year’s event included Mayor Harris, Duluth City Councilwoman Marsha Bomar, Councilman Billy Jones, Huthmaker Violins, Bill Head Funeral Home, Dennis Taylor and Company, Corporate Expressions, Georgia Brush Dynamics, New Dawn Theater, Carol Hitchcock, Ronald and Gay Shook, Ed Gulesserian, Lucille Walker, Jim and Terrie Adkins, Amy and Andy Clement, Sarah Black, Kathy Yam, Duluth Travel, TieDye 4, Best of Brews and the Duluth Fall Festival, many of whom were represented in the audience to show their gratitude to the police department.