By Sandi Latimer
A newspaper article from Sept. 23, 1897, proclaimed Town Marshal Johnny Stage and a fellow police officer saved the mill from disaster.
Seems as though a pipe had come loose, and he “had a scalded foot when he stepped into hot water,” his great-grandson Grove City Mayor “Ike” Stage read from a snippet from a 19th century newspaper.
The mayor also had a segment of minutes from an undescribed meeting of April 8, 1888, that said the “marshal made $2.25 for the month.”
“He also served as street commissioner,” Stage said. “That’s equivalent to the safety director today.”
Tidbits of history, such as Stage offered May 10 as he helped today’s police officers dedicate a Service with Honor Patio in front of the department’s headquarters, were found as safety leaders researched their own history.
Back in those days, the town marshal was an elected position.
Several of the town marshals and others were who were decorated are honored with their own brick in the patio, an idea of immediate past Chief Steve Robinette.
“We wanted to recognize and honor people who served,” said Robinette as a crowd of about 50 people, including police officers, gathered at the patio.
He said it was a fitting tribute that the dedication came during Peace Officers Week, with Peace Officers Day to be observed May 15.
The former chief said the honor patio blends in with the city’s attempt to create a walkable city.
“If you want a walkable city, you have to create focal points,” he said, citing some of the memorials to fallen heroes in other parts of the city.
“This is not a memorial,” Robinette was quick to point out. “Fortunately, we have not lost anyone in the line of duty.”
And that goes back more than 150 years as evidenced by the year 1852 as part of the patch on the officers’ shoulders.
Names of 42 officers were read, with some of the names getting applause. Among them were Elbert L. “E.L.” Evans for whom the local senior center is named; former chiefs Robinette and Ron Gabriell; and Capt. Raymond Ruoff, who at 97 and wearing his gray uniform and white cap, grinned widely and waved to the audience.
“We are honored to have a brick,” said Stage, pointing to the one that bears his great-grandfather’s name and years of service.
Grove City council president Roby Schottke had high praise for police officers.
“I come from a long line of police officers,” he said. “My father, my grandfather and my uncle were officers. I prayed for their safety every time they came from their shift.”