TIMES TRIBUNE (CORBIN, Ky.)
By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
A campaign to register one million designated drivers nationwide found some heroes in the City of Corbin Tuesday.
At a morning ceremony at City Hall, a proclamation was read and signed, announcing Corbin’s adoption of the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers — a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent drunken driving tragedies by promoting the use of safe and sober designated drivers.
“We were the first city in America to adopt the campaign. Other cities have now adopted this campaign as well. I just don’t think somebody should get behind the wheel of any vehicle and get on the highways after they’ve been drinking,” the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) administrator, Clara Patterson, said Tuesday after the ceremony.
Patterson was joined at the ceremony by Officer Steven Douglas, with the Kentucky State Police-CommercialVehicle Enforcement, along with Corbin Police Sgt. Jim Miller, who is also the city’s assistant ABC administrator. Also in attendance were Officer Kenneth Proffitt of the Corbin Police Department, City Manager Marlon Sams and Mayor Willard McBurney.
Based in Somers Point, N.J., the HERO campaign works with schools, colleges, local and state government, concert venues, sports stadiums, restaurants and taverns, and law enforcement officials to bring an end to drunken driving tragedies in America.
“We have several restaurants in Corbin that have gotten on the bandwagon with the campaign. They display HERO posters in their restaurants and pledge to serve free non-alcoholic drinks to sober designated drivers,” Patterson pointed out.
The HERO program came about after John R. Elliott, of Egg Harbor, N.J., was killed in a head-on collision with a drunken driver in July 2000.
Elliott graduated two months earlier from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. degree in systems engineering, and had received his commission as an ensign in the United States Navy. He was preparing to attend Naval Flight Officer’s School in Pensacola, Fla. at the time of the crash.
At the Naval Academy, Elliott distinguished himself as a HERO — a Human Education Resource — and had been selected the outstanding HERO in his class.
According to a HERO brochure, his parents, Bill and Muriel Elliott said, “John was traveling home from Annapolis for his mother’s birthday when he was killed in a head-on collision. The other driver had been arrested earlier in the evening on DUI charges, then released. The intoxicated driver got back behind the wheel of his SUV, resumed driving and struck John’s car, killing them both.”
In his honor, and in an effort to end accidents and deaths caused by drunken driving, the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers was established.
“When I read about this gentleman, Ensign Elliott, it really touched me, and I decided to do something about it,” Patterson said.
Along with Corbin, the HERO Campaign has been adopted in Whitley County and in Kentucky.
On Aug. 13, Officer Douglas joined Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. in signing a proclamation naming Whitley County as a HERO Campaign County for designated drivers.
Kentucky is one of five states who have adopted the campaign, promoting the nationwide message for people to be a HERO by being a designated driver. The other four are New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Delaware.