Mayor Gene Wright of Malone is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has a soft spot in his heart for veterans of all wars and all ages. Last year, he decided he wanted to do something extra for the veterans of Jackson County during the holiday season. With the help of the community, arrangements were made for Santa to make a visit to the Veteran’s Clinic on Highway 90.
This year, Wright wanted to make it bigger and better than last year’s event. He called on local businessman Ricky Miller of Rahal Miller, the Jackson County Times, the Town of Malone, Sheriff Lou Roberts, the Jackson County Commissioners, interim county administrator Pam Prichard, and Rodney Andreason to make it happen.
Tuesday morning Santa arrived via a police escort by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, bearing gifts for all. Ricky Miller had 50 gift cards for Santa to pass out to all veterans and the staff at the clinic. Along with those were radios, candy canes, and the opportunity for everyone to chat with Santa. Young and old had the chance to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him their wishes. The VFW had baskets and 40 bags of food to pass along to those in need.
Following the visit, Wright said, “This is something that is near and dear to me and it means a lot to me. Every chance we get, we need to show them our appreciation for what they did. No matter how long ago they served, they need to be remembered. I am going to do it every year. This is not only for the vets but for the staff at the clinic to let them know we appreciate them too. I know them all by now. I’ve been in the VA system a long time and I’ve always gotten excellent care and the staff needs to know they are important.”
Miller, a supporter of veterans, said, “We are here today because of our veterans. Had it not been for them and the ones who serve today, we wouldn’t have the freedom we enjoy. You can never do too much for our veterans.”
From the staff at the TIMES, we wish the veterans a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!