Mayor drives students home in snow

Published 4:55 pm Monday, February 3, 2014

By JULIE HARBIN/Community columnist

“It was quite an adventurous day.”

That’s the way Calera’s Mayor, Jon Graham, described the unexpected snowstorm that occurred on Jan. 28. “I picked up my boys from school here in Calera at 10:30 a.m., and that’s when I realized that the roads would soon become impassable,” Graham said.

From there, Graham met with his department heads and quickly formulated a plan. He told them that the task at hand was to get as many children and faculty members as possible reunited with their families and back home safely. They planned to use city personnel, city equipment, and even personal equipment to accomplish this task.

Parents were quickly contacted to give permission for their child to be taken home, and city officials sprang into action. Mayor Graham used his personal vehicle, a GMC 2500 4-wheel drive truck, to pick up children and take them home safely. Calera’s Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Public Works Director and other city personnel also joined in the effort.

The elementary students were particularly excited about being driven home by the mayor.

“Several of the kids asked if I was going to drive them home in a car made of gold! They had no idea what the mayor’s car might look like,” Graham said. “They thought that they were riding with royalty!”

“I dropped my last child off at home at 9:45 p.m. “Our personnel drove at least 150 students and 50 faculty members home,” he said. “In the end, only five or six children and a few faculty members had to stay the night at the school. We worked hard and accomplished our mission.”

Sonya Eggleston, a first grade teacher at Calera Elementary School, is thankful that the Mayor drove her and her child home.

“He didn’t just make an order, he helped complete the task,” Eggleston said. “That shows that our mayor is a real person.”

Graham stopped to help Calera citizens along the way. He pulled a stuck 18 wheeler truck off of Highway 31, delivered gas to stalled cars, and also pulled several cars out of ditches.

Calera Elementary School teachers Melinda Kayton and Misty Snow, were also driven home by Graham.

“It was quite the ride and I will never forget it,” Snow said. “Mayor Graham was more than calm all the way through.”

Kayton added, “He kept stopping to help others. He even pulled an Alabaster police cruiser out of a ditch with a chain while I was with him.”

Graham’s final mission of the night was to travel I-65 to Lakeshore Drive in Homewood to pick up three stranded Calera citizens, one of those being Police Chief Sean Lemley’s wife.

“It was truly a group effort,” Graham said. “I cannot thank our city employees enough. Our number one goal was to help our citizens to safety by any means necessary. We didn’t get home until 2 o’clock in the morning, but we went to sleep believing that we did everything that we could to serve our city.”