Filling the El Campo Civic Center with smiling faces and warm embraces, about 300 members of the 100 Club of Wharton County gathered Thursday night for the 40th annual membership meeting.
After a homemade steak and potatoes meal had been devoured by the attendees, Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath gave the audience an overview of county spending in 2019. Some of the highlights of his speech included county taxes, spending and the impact of local law enforcement.
“I will say since I’ve lived here, I’ve never heard anything bad about our law enforcement,” Spenrath said.
“Y’all do one hell of a job,” he added. “I’m going to say that word and get in trouble.”
The outgoing 100 Club President, David Carlson, thanked club members for allowing him to lead the organization in 2019.
“I learned a lot more than just sitting on the sidelines,” Carlson said.
“It really helped me understand what we really do and how many different people are involved (to) help law enforcement.”
Incoming President Allen Hurst addressed the audience, speaking about the club’s impact on the community and on his own life. In 2007, after the death of his son Justin Hurst, who was a Game Warden in Wharton County, Hurst’s family was supported by the 100 club.
“Little did we know, two weeks after moving down here, how that 100 club would help with the loss of our son,” Hurst said. “It does make a difference.”
Debbie Cenko of Wharton was elected as first vice president, Billy Freeman as second vice president and Susie Priesmeyer returned as secretary and treasurer.
Club members voted to approve the 2020 directors, with no one dissenting.
The 2020 directors are Wayne Adam, Kevin Bannert, Blake Barger, Tim Barker, David Carlson, Tammy Dotson, Marshall Francis, Joe Freeman, Craig Gwinner, Billie Jones, Andy Kirkland, Linc Lutrick, Mary Ellen Meyer, Byron Nelson, Richard Ottis, David Pagel, Mike Prasek, Jimmy Triska, Kenneth Trochta, Peggy Trochta, Johnny Veselka, David Webster and Ed Weinheimer III.
Club funds go toward the education of young people pursuing a career in local law enforcement, buying equipment for departments and by providing life insurance policies to law enforcement.
“To do these things, we need the support of our membership, special donations some members will make, and also our spaghetti dinner,” Hurst said. “We are only able to support and do these things with your help.”
The annual spaghetti cook-off, where law enforcement will compete to make the best pasta dish, raised $19,000 for the club in 2019. This year’s event will be on March 26.
On Aug. 20, the club will host its annual awards banquet. At this event, law enforcement members are recognized with awards, such as officer of the year, for outstanding achievement.
Formed in 1978, the 100 Club of Wharton County is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides assistance to law enforcement through scholarships, life-saving equipment and more.
Since its conception, the club has provided $170,000 in scholarships and about the same amount in equipment donations.
An individual annual membership is $100, and other offers, such as lifetime memberships, are available for different prices. To enroll, fill out the application at www.100clubwc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Membership-Application.pdf and mail to 100 Club of Wharton County Inc., P.O. Box 46, El Campo, TX 77437.