lagrangenews.com

‘We’re here to say goodbye to a dear friend.’

Steena Hymes shymes@civitasmedia.com

April 8, 2014

The West Point neighborhood watch group hosted an appreciation potluck dinner to honor Chief Jeffery Cato on his retirement last night at the West Point Senior Center. Cato’s last day will be June 1, four years after he started as Chief.


Mayor Drew Ferguson, West Point police department staff, city council and residents all came out to show their appreciate for Cato.


John Tidwell served as Master of Ceremonies and entertained the guests with anecdotes about city leaders including Cato.


A blessing was spoken by Kap Duncan saying “we’re here to say goodbye to a dear friend.”


Representatives from several city organizations thanked Cato and spoke of his dedication and the enduring legacy he will leave on West Point.


Mayor Ferguson said a few words reflecting on the four years Cato served as chief.


“Everything he has done has been to benefit the well-being of this community,” Ferguson said. “You have left us in better shape than we were found.”


Officer Jennifer Jones, Special Assistance to the Chief, gave a tearful address to Cato for his impact, not only in the police department, but in her life personally. She spoke to the belief Cato had in every member of the police force and the vision he shared.


“Saying goodbye to Chief Cato is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, cause he’s made a difference in my life and in our community,” Jones said.


Captain Robert Fawley with the West Point PD added onto Jones comments sharing all Cato taught him in the last four years and the family he created among the West Point community.


“He came from Dekalb County… and said this is now my home [and] this group right here accepted him as a part of the family,” Fawley said.


On behalf the Booker Hill Neighborhood Watch, Barbara Ruddick, presented Cato with a plaque of appreciation for his “outstanding service and dedication” towards Booker Hills and West Point.


As Cato is an avid golfer, Howard Ruddick with neighborhood watch presented Cato with golf balls fished out of the lake at Callaway Gardens golf course.


With laughter from Cato and the guests, Ruddick joked that due to an insufficient budget, they were unable to buy a full golf bag with clubs as they intended.


“These golf balls chief, they’re not new, but they’re given with love and appreciation,” he said. “So if you hit one, you don’t have to worry about it going in the woods or rough.”


The hosts of the evening, Neighborhood Watch, had representative Feltcher Helms also say a few words of appreciation to Cato as well.


“I must say, I don’t know of another place in the country that could be more proud of a police chief and and a city that we have and that has filtered down from this man right here,” Fletcher said.


After receiving words of gratitude, Cato spoke to the guests to show his appreciation for all they’ve done during his time as Chief. Cato choked up while speaking to his numerous supporters.


“You guys have blessed me. This has been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my life,” Cato said. “You are my family.”