FAIRMONT — Grant Town Police Officer Cristy Sillman was touched by the community support at a benefit dinner Saturday in Fairmont that was held to help send her for training at the West Virginia Police Academy in Charleston.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “Everyone has been so supportive. I can’t express in words how much people have faith in me and believe in me.”
With no shops or other businesses paying business and occupation taxes to the municipality, Grant Town cannot afford to send Sillman to the police academy, which costs a total of $12,000. The training is needed so Sillman can get the certification that she needs.
Previously, the town held a gun raffle to raise money. Saturday’s benefit dinner at the Knights of Columbus on Mary Lou Retton Drive in Fairmont was the next step in the effort to raise the money that is needed.
Sillman estimated that at least 140 people had bought tickets for the dinner, raising approximately $1,800.
Counting the previous gun raffle earlier this year and Saturday’s benefit dinner, she estimated that a total of at least approximately $5,000 had been raised.
However, she said it was possible more would show up at the dinner as the night went on. Also, her estimate of Saturday’s tally didn’t count such other fundraising efforts as a basket raffle and a 50/50 that was also being held at the dinner.
She said another gun raffle could be held next year if necessary.
John McLaughlin, who is the Rivesville Police chief and a criminal justice professor at Fairmont State University, noted that 12 members of Alpha Phi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society, were helping with the dinner. It helped them fulfill their volunteer work requirement.
“They seem to like it,” he said.
Cheyenne Baker, president of the organization, was happy to be assisting.
“Criminal justice means a lot to me, and nowadays we need more support,” she said.
Grant Town Council Member James Kennedy was happy to see so many people turn out.
“It makes me feel good they support our officer and what they do behind the lines,” he said.
Sillman said the $12,000 cost includes everything, such as room and board, her wages, schooling and uniform.
Sillman was accepted to attend the Academy in April. This requires her training to be completed by the end of summer 2020.