ANDERSON – Anderson- Shiro alum (C/O 1999) and former Grimes County Sheriff Office Dispatcher, Jessica (Abramowski) Vaughan, brought a homeschool group to tour the jail and visit her hometown.
The group including 16 students and seven moms met at GCSO. Vaughn shared accounts of time she spent working for Sheriff Don Sowell fresh out of high school. “Walking in flooded my mind with so many memories,” she said.
The first familiar face they met was Officer Travis Hughey, whom she rode on several transports with. Sheriff Sowell gave a personal tour of his office which features a collection of memorabilia he has collected over the years. The group could have spent hours enjoying Sheriff Sowell’s “mini museum” and listening to his stories. He also shared visions for the department.
Officer Zachary Pavlock and his K-9 partner Hank gave the group a first-hand look into the life of a K-9 cop with a demonstration and tour of the K-9 unit. He shared accounts of the most-recent drug bust and other operations he and Hank have been part of. Students also had the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat, turn on the lights and sirens and speak on the microphone. Pavlock pinned students with an official badge.
Natasha Williams guided the group through the jail showing the booking process, kitchen, recreational areas, jail cells and the chapel. The chapel, which features colorful hand-painted murals from former inmates, was a crowd favorite.
Lunch was served in the American Legion Hall, and the group was impressed by the genuine hospitality. During lunch Vaughn shared more stories of Anderson and how school dances were hosted at the Legion Hall. On Homecoming night after the basketball game, she said students got ready in the locker rooms at the school gym then rushed rushing across the parking lot to the small building, where Rick Lemons played music for students to dance the night away.
After lunch Chief Deputy Martha Smith escorted the group to the steps of the Grimes County Business and Justice Center where Deputy Daniel Caswell led them on a tour of the facility. The group first greet Courthouse Security Officer David Koch. Students also enjoyed a short mock trial and learned how the court system operates.
The day concluded with a visit to historic downtown Anderson to see the Grimes County Courthouse, Fanthorp Inn Cemetery, Anderson Park with the old wooden stage where Miss Anderson Pageants were held. Vaughn shared memories along the way and the group even encountered locals, the Smith’s and Szymczak’s, who were enjoying the weather on their porches.
Vaughn, who married her husband in April of 2000, has lived in Montgomery since. She said she misses Anderson and the people deeply and is very appreciative of everyone who helped make the day special. “We all felt like the red carpet was rolled out for us,” she explained. “The hospitality and love we felt in Anderson and the opportunities that were provided for us, we will never forget! Every moment there was a blessing, and I am so thankful to be able to share this diamond off to my children and our friends! They all enjoyed themselves and fell in love with the beauty and people ofAnderson.”