When Queenie Vortice expressed a need for new shopping carts for herself and other Federation Towers residents, Clarksdale Police Department Assistant Chief Fernando Harris answered the call.
Harris was speaking with Clarksdale residents during the community barbecue on Valentine’s Day and Vortice said the shopping carts would be beneficial for going to the store and doing laundry.
Harris got together with other officers and purchased 10 folding carts from Walmart for Federation Towers - a senior living residence on Ritchie Avenue – and presented them to residents Thursday morning.
Harris said most Federation Towers residents got to the store twice a week. They will now be able to take a folding cart on the bus.
“Them having four or five bags, they had to go back and forth from the room to their bus,” Harris said. “Now, they will be able to put it in their individual cart and roll it upstairs.”
The carts will also benefit residents who do not have laundry baskets when they are washing their clothes.
Harris was glad the police department was able to make a difference.
“It shows the community that we want to get involved, we care about their concerns and any way we can help, we will try to help,” he said.
Vortice expressed her gratitude.
“We need some bags,” she said. “We’re old people. It’s going to help us get our groceries up there when we go to the grocery store and come down and wash. Some of us don’t have baskets to come downstairs and wash. That’s going to help us out a whole lot. I sure appreciate it. I’m going to give them a great big hug.”
Police Chief Sandra Williams said when Harris suggested purchasing folding carts for Federation Towers, she, Assistant Chiefs Robbie Linley and Vince Ramirez, Cpl. Ben Wade, Mayor Chuck Espy, commissioner Ken Murphey and other elected officials were on board.
“Fernando Harris said to me that he had concern about the residents that lived here at Federation,” Williams said. “He said that the carts would help them daily as they go about doing their shopping or carrying things that need to be carried. It was his idea. We agreed with it. We got together, put our funds together to present you all with these carts. We hope that it will help you.”
Espy had all praise for the police department.
“You are as strong as your weakest link and you know what we’ve done in Clarksdale?” he said. “We’ve found all of the weak links and we’ve gotten rid of them. What you see before you is a really strong team. Commissioner Ken Murphey and the other commissioners, we’ve all decided to join and lock arm in arm to help the people of Clarksdale. By doing that, we brought you a chief of police that knew how to restructure the police department.”
Espy said Williams has brought in officers like Harris who have great ideas.
“I am just really proud of where we are and what we’re doing for the people of Clarksdale because now we can definitely say we are stronger together,” Espy said. “I can see it. I see it in our spirit. I see it when we talk. I see it in the police department and you know I call it the way I see it, chief. Initially, I didn’t see it in the police department and guess what? I can safely say now that I see it in the police department and that’s a good thing.”
“We are stronger together,” he said. “I love what we’ve got going on. I love where we’re going. We all have to work together in order for the mayor to be successful and the city to be successful. In order for the city to be successful, the mayor has to be successful and we’re all in.”
Espy also said Federation Towers manager Lisa Campbell has shown great leadership in making life better for residents. He said, prior to Campbell coming on board, there were rough patches.
“It’s been about eight or nine years and it’s been really nice what you’ve done and we are really proud of you,” Espy said. “It just takes the right leaders at the right time.”
Campbell said residents and staff at Federation Towers have worked together to turn things around.
“The turnaround has not been just me,” she said. “I have a great group of people in this whole building and I have a great support staff and activity committee.”
Campbell also mentioned a recent fire at Chapel Hill Heights apartments on Gooden Cove where the police department saved residents. A fire department station was across the street, but the police department arrived first. Sometimes when there is a fire, Campbell said the Clarksdale Police Department or Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office will show up.
“The fire department is farther away from us than Chapel Hill, so what if the police had to come and respond to a fire over here? How would you all react," she asked the residents.
Before the police department arrived Thursday, Campbell pulled the fire alarm at Federation Towers and it took everyone 20 minutes to evacuate. She added residents are used to the fire alarm going off and it not being a problem, but if there was a fire, they could die because they did not understand there was an emergency.
“I took this opportunity to show you that you need to be alert and impressionable every time the alarm goes off,” Campbell said.