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Ferriday honors King, seeks solutions

FERRIDAY — The second annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and observance service at Doty Road Church Of God gave residents a chance to remember the man responsible for great change in America.

Pastors, ministers and residents gathered in the church to look back on the dreams of King and to look ahead toward the future of Ferriday.

“We are all one now,” Concordia Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Burley said. “And my hope is we can all be one, no matter what color, religion or race we are.”

Burley was one of many guest speakers, soloists and ministers who came out to the service to honor King.

The Rev. Pastor Eugene E. Williams of Mount Beulah Baptist Church was the guest speaker and gave a message of remembering the past to all those in attendance.

“The past, most young folks don’t want to talk about the past,” he said. “Many people say if I was around back then, I wouldn’t have taken it. Back then you would have taken it, or you would have died. We had sense enough to know, that we had to do what we were told to do, until we could do what we wanted to do.”

Williams also spoke on the importance of keeping today’s youth in school.

“If you don’t finish school, the odds are against you. We need to encourage our children to stay in school, ” he said. “We need to get back to being concerned about our children. Let us take heed of the voice of God by bringing together the biggest institutions in their lives, home, church, school and the community.”

NAACP local chapter president Justin Conner spoke and asked residents what they thought King would say about the current conditions in Ferriday.

“We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We come today to say that we are here to stand on a unified front. There is no reason we can’t join together and walk this community out of despair and into distinction.”

Doty Road Church of God Pastor, the Rev. Simeon Green, ended the service by thanking those in attendance and by starting a community action meeting to talk about drugs and crime in Ferriday.

“We are here to see what we can do as a community to make Ferriday a better place to live,” he said.

Ferriday Police Chief Kenneth Hedrick said the police department makes a lot of drug arrests in Ferriday, with 109 total in 2010, with 77 convictions.

“I believe we make more drug arrests than they do in Vidalia and at the sheriff’s office,” he said.

Assistant Police Chief Johnny Evans said theft and shoplifting are also two crimes the Town of Ferriday has to deal with.

“Many people are afraid to report incidents, because they are afraid of turning the person in,” he said. “People need to call in any crime they see. We can take anonymous calls.”

Evans said in relation to more serious crimes in Ferriday, things were slower, with only one homicide and four aggravated assaults for 2010. Conner asked Hedrick what his plans were for helping the town combat crime.

Hedrick replied by saying while he believes they have done a good job, the lack of officers really puts the force at a disadvantage.

“Our officers have more than they can deal with,” he said. “We can’t afford to do many things because we just don’t have the manpower.”

Hedrick said community involvement is one thing that can help his officers combat the town’s problems.

“One big thing we need is the Neighborhood Watch program,” he said. “We can always use help from the community, and I sure would like to get it going.”

Hedrick and Evans both said any help they receive from the community is help they need.

“If we can get the neighborhoods together to work out the watch program, we can get this working,” he said. “And we can always use more officers.”

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