NEW LEXINGTON — The Perry County Sheriff’s Office hosted its first community outreach event Saturday and invited members of the community to get Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs. The event was created by the Perry County Sheriff’s office and also partnered with several other local organizations to put on the event.

The event was designed for kids ages 17 and under. A youth fishing derby was also a part of the event as kids were separated based on ages. Children were separated by ages five and under, six to nine, 10 to 13 and 14 to 17.

“We have never had this event before, this is the first year we are having it,” Sgt. Brandon Forester told The Perry County Tribune. “Hopefully next year we have twice as many people come.”

Registration for the event started at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 10 a.m. All who participated went around the small lake located along Clayton Township Road in order to compete in the youth fishing derby. Families and community members huddled around the lake while children of all ages patiently waited to catch the biggest fish.

Those who attended the event received a t-shirt and a free lunch. Those who competed in the fishing derby also had the opportunity to receive a plaque as well as other prizes donated by local businesses in New Lexington. Each age group had to compete for the Biggest Fish Award and also a Sportsmanship award. Each child participant must also be accompanied by an adult before and during the competition.

The inspiration for this event started when another sheriff’s office held a similar event. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office held a similar event last May which boasted an attendance of 500 people. This prompted members of the department to organize a similar community event with a simple message. The message behind the event is clear, Get Hooked on Fishing — Not on Drugs.

Sheriff Randy Barker and other members of PCSO traveled to Morgan County to see how the event was organized. After several months of discussion, the Perry County Sheriff’s Office decided to put on its own fishing event for the community. The sheriff’s office also found partners who were willing to help provide funds, prizes and space for the event.

The Perry County Transit was able to provide the sheriff’s office with grant funds that it had accrued over time to help put on the fishing event. The Perry Soil and Water Conservation District was another partner of the event and it was able to provide an area for fishing. The sheriff’s office also had help from private citizens and other small businesses donate to the event as well.

“It’s just been a snowball effect here of people wanting to help out,” Sheriff Barker told The Perry County Tribune.

The Perry County Sheriff’s Office saw around 250 people come to the event. Sheriff Barker stated that it was great to see so many people come out to the event and he hopes that the event’s message carries through to the youth.

“It brings the community together,” Deputy Donald Smith said. “I know there are some issues with our county that we are trying to clean up and this is an event that people can come out and just enjoy some fishing, and take some time off with their kids.”

Smith was off duty when the event was going on, and decided to use his day-off by taking his wife, two daughters and son out to enjoy the sun and some fishing. He hopes that this event will continue and that more people come out as he stated that its an important event. His son, Brandon Smith, had already caught three fish prior to weigh-ins for the competition which stated at around noon.

Other members of the Perry County Sheriff’s Office were also present. Some members of PCSO were in uniform while others where out with their families participating in the fishing event.

David Hogue Jr. was also present for the PCSO-sponsored fishing event. He is a member of the community and was present with his son, David Hogue III. Hogue Jr. stated that he heard about the event after he crossed paths with Sheriff Randy Barker while in town. He encouraged Hogue Jr. to bring himself and his son out to the event. Hogue Jr. quickly obliged to come since the event carried a good message for his son as well as other youth in the community.

“Drugs are around here real bad,” Hogue Jr. said. “You got to keep the kids away from them. Something like this would help out and get the kids away from them.”

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