Elizabethtown Police Officer Brian Reed, Village of Elizabethtown President Bertis Cook and Wes Sherrod. — Kirsha Sherrod photo.
Cave In Rock Police Officer Garison Mott with his newly painted and detailed police car by Wes Sherrod. — Linda Mott photo.
Village of Cave In Rock President Marty Kaylor presents Key to Village to Wes Sherrod for his gift to the community. Left to right: Police Officer Garison Mott, Joe Hobbs, Donnie Lewis, Marty Kaylor presenting key to Wes Sherrod, Melinda Foster, Winnie Oxford, Joanne Hunt. Terry Barnard is standing behind Sherrod in the picture and can’t be seen. — Linda Mott photo.
By Jennifer Lane, Hardin County Independent
Cave In Rock and Elizabethtown police departments were given the opportunity to repaint and have a makeover to their police vehicles at no charge to their departments. Wes Sherrod, Harrisburg, IL, is responsible for this generous gift. He owns Sherrod’s Collision Center in Harrisburg, and with the resources he has, he felt compelled to give back to those who serve and protect our communities.
Sherrod was approached last fall by the chief of the Harrisburg Police Department who was hoping to get some help painting one of the department’s cars before a training session. When finding out the department’s very limited budget and when he saw how banged up many of the cars were, Sherrod repainted seven of their cars for free. Even though this was not the first time he had helped a municipal department, it started a chain of events that have improved many departments in southern Illinois just in the past six months.
Sherrod was intrigued and quite shocked by the lack of funds that area departments have to make improvements to their cars. He began researching different departments on the internet, finding that many were not even listed. He decided to make it a mission to help as many departments as he could, especially those with possible funding obstacles. He sent out 22 brochures to local departments, explaining his mission and that all work would be free of charge. He was surprised to find that he had to put extra effort into convincing some of the Boards to paint their department’s cars.
Since his paint-gifting mission has begun, he has painted 16 law enforcement vehicles in Harrisburg, Brookport, Cave In Rock and Elizabethtown. He has about 25 more scheduled to be repainted in various southern Illinois towns.
Before painting the cars he gave citizens of those towns a vote in the decision making process for the styles and colors of the vehicles to be selected. He posted signs in the various towns and requested that the community vote on his Facebook page: “Wes Sherrod”, for a specific style. When cars were finished he posted “before and after” pictures and videos of the vehicles on his Facebook site. The differences are remarkable and prove to be a blessing to each community.
From the gift of a simple paint job with decals, Sherrod has noticed positive changes in those communities. First off, he is amazed at how thankful the officers are for the gift. Due to budget constraints, many officers feel uneasy to ask Boards for repairs with miscellaneous issues that they can just deal with as they do their jobs. Paint jobs are probably last on the list. The two-toned paint job magnifies the presence of the law enforcement vehicles in communities, and for those communities who have had multiple vehicles painted, it causes uniformity. “The Cave In Rock Police Department is truly thankful for Wes Sherrod and his passion for giving back to the communities,” said Cave In Rock police officer Garison Mott. “We could not thank him enough for the amazing job that he did on our squad car.” The Village of Cave in Rock Board members presented Sherrod with the Key to the Village for his gift to the department at their meeting Monday night.
The change also opens up conversations with officers making them more reachable or approachable by the public. Citizens compliment the new look and it seems to make communication more easy maybe if assistance from that officer might be needed in the future.
“Wes Sherrod has done a wonderful job for the community with the squad car,” said Elizabethtown Police Officer Brian Reed. “The great paint job he put on the car has accomplished more than just the look of a beautiful car. It has helped to build a connection between the community and police. I believe in proactive policing – the kind that involves highly visible and frequent patrols that detours crime. Wes has given Elizabethtown a squad car that is a shining star for that type of effective protection for our community.”
Sherrod also has seen officers taking pride in their vehicles now that they sport a more identifiable and professional look. He says that in all the places he has painted the cars, officers are proud to get dressed in their uniforms and pose with their vehicles for pictures.
Sherrod hopes that making positive changes like these will help build a better southern Illinois. “I feel like if I plant the seed of change or offer change, the community can have a change that makes the place better,” said Sherrod.
Sherrod has lived in this area most of his life; operating his own business for 22 years after expanding from his father’s body shop next door. His wife, Kirsha, added that he had been at this type of work for a long time. Sherrod had worked for his father as early at 8th grade. After school each day he would walk to his father’s shop and work where he was needed.
Sherrod also talked about how he includes Kirsha, and kids, Tiffany and Brandon in giving opportunities. They grow vegetables in their garden and have meat from their ranch butchered to give to food pantries.
“Each one of us has the ability to make a change in our community,” said Sherrod. “Why not let those around us see the change and maybe they will make changes also? One person can make a difference and you can be that one person.”
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