Helena Strong: Community rallies around Helena Police Department

Helena community members applaud a member of the Helena Police Department as she walks into The Coal Yard on Tuesday, July 12 to enjoy a free meal. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

Helena community members applaud a member of the Helena Police Department as she walks into The Coal Yard on Tuesday, July 12 to enjoy a free meal. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–In response to the tragedy that resulted in five Dallas police officers losing their lives on July 7, the city of Helena and residents rallied together to show an outpouring of support to those within the Helena Police Department in the form of a free meal.

The idea was formed by select members of the Helena community to provide Helena Police officers and their families with a free, safe meal at The Coal Yard on Tuesday, July 12.

Despite rainy weather, Helena residents and families lined both sides of the sidewalk leading to The Coal Yard in Old Town Helena and applauded officers and their families as they made their way into the restaurant.

Numerous signs and poster boards were displayed with encouraging messages that read, “We love HPD” or “Helena Strong.”

The Coal Yard closed its doors at 4 p.m. on July 12, to allow only members of the Helena Police Department to enjoy a free meal which consisted of numerous appetizers and main entrees such as fried chicken and watermelon, Coal Yard burger, fried green tomato BLT, smoked chicken wings, applewood smoked reuben, blackened salmon, grilled pork chops, grilled ribeye, shrimp and grits and desserts.

Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar and his family attended the dinner, and he said he can’t tell people how much he appreciated the warm welcome him and his family received when walking into the restaurant.

“I don’t really need a reminder that the people in Helena support their police department because I see that on a daily basis,” said Folmar. “People see this kind of stuff happening and they want to do something and they don’t really know what to do and if this helps my community to feel better to let us know that we’re appreciated, we know that and without their support and cooperation and assistance we can’t do our job. Helena is a great place to live, it’s a great place to work and it’s a great place to be a police officer.”

Folmar has been in the law enforcement field for 22 years, and many other members of the Helena Police Department, with a wide range of experience, got to enjoy the meal and music provided by Jerry Robbins.

Coal Yard Owner Jeff Oetting said numerous donations poured in for the police department, and the funds raised will go to the Helena Police Explorers program.