For Deputy Chad Eubanks and the department he works for, Jan. 1 is “always a somber day.”
But this year, when he passes by that stretch of Interstate 70 near the Enon Beach Mobile Home Park where Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Hopper was killed, he’ll also remember the positive, thanks to new signage proclaiming it the Deputy Suzanne Hopper Memorial Highway.
“It’s a great tribute and that’s a positive thing to come out of this whole thing. Those that worked with Suzanne would know how much she did for the community outside of being a deputy sheriff,” Eubanks said.
New legislation passed Tuesday by the Ohio Senate includes naming a portion of I-70 between Interstate 675 and Enon Road after the fallen deputy, who was shot to death while investigating a domestic dispute at Enon Beach on Jan 1, 2011. The gunman, Michael Ferryman, also died in a shootout with officers.
State Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, said he pushed for the provision in House Bill 325, which includes dedications to other fallen officers and military members across Ohio. He said he wanted the millions who travel the interstate every year to also remember her sacrifice.
“It’s important for not only those that travel Interstate 70 to recognize that but it’s also a fitting tribute and memorial to Deputy Hopper and her loss of life there,” Widener said.
A dedication date is still pending. Legislators are working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the timing for the new signage, officials from Widener’s office said.
It’s Eubanks’ hope the dedication will remind people less about the tragedy, but rather the woman behind it. Even on calls today, he said he still hears stories about how Hopper helped others. She was known for volunteering with special needs programs and education initiatives such as DARE. She also made personal contributions to those in need.
“She cared about them,” he said.
Knowing there’s more to being a deputy than what he or she does with a badge, he recalled how he took a new recruit out to her grave site at Myers Cemetery in North Hampton.
“Had him clean off her headstone, clean it up,” Eubanks said. “Just a reminder for what we do and what this job entails and the danger.”
“I think it hit home for him,” he added.
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