Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 13, 2012

Petitioners ask for annual ‘Stacy Hunter Day’

‘What we want is for a holiday where everyone in the community could come together.’

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Can 229 people be wrong?

That's the current number of people petitioning Jacksonville officials to create a special designated day in honor of slain city employee Stacy DeWayne Hunter, a beloved area figure.

"There is no telling how many signatures we are going to be able to get before this is over," said Veronica Hunter, Stacy Hunter's sister. "I really want something positive to come out of this."

Nov. 1 was Hunter's birthday, which is why petition organizers hope to get the city to name the day in his honor, but not create the kind of official holiday that would cause people to miss work.

Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi said creating such a day would take authorization by the city council.

Hunter, a city code enforcement officer, was shot and killed early Oct. 27 at the night club on North Jackson Street that bears his name, allegedly by a distant relative.

Subsequently, Veronica Hunter and Lucinda "Cindy" Hollis, a cousin-in-law of the victim's, decided to honor his memory by leading the petition effort. Hollis believes there is an excellent chance this will happen.

Hunter had been an important member of the city's code enforcement team for nearly two decades and also coached youth athletics and many other community activities involving children. He was loved by  friends, family and coworkers.

This is why an enthusiastic Hollis said Monday she was so excited she could be working on something to honor him.

"Oh, yes. Thank you, Lord,” Hollis said. “Stacy did so much. I'm telling you, there's no one else out there like him.  … What we're looking for is a holiday where everyone in the community can come together."

Hollis estimated that 84 people had signed the online version of the petition and 145 the hand version she was helping circulate as of Monday. That number is expected to greatly grow, she said.

Hollis added she is communicating about the matter with Mo Raissi, Jacksonville's city manager, who has told them there are no hard and fast deadlines or minimum amounts of signatures required.

But Raissi said Monday that creating a city holiday, even for an admired figure like Hunter, will take work. This is new territory, he said, and authorization by the city council will be required as will lots of lobbying.

Calculations provided to the council of how much such a holiday could cost will probably also be necessary, the city manager said.

Once the signatures are all collected, Raissi said he will forward them to the city council.

Meanwhile, one online petitioner, Chaquarra Martinez of Jacksonville, wrote that a "Stacy Hunter Day" would be very important to the city.

"A lot of youth looked at Mr. Hunter as a father figure," Martinez said. "He thought the youth about hard work, motivation, and values. He could have did so many other things with his time but he choose to give his time to the youth."

Yalanda Crayton, also, of Jacksonville expressed similar sentiments on the site.

"Stacy was a wonderful man and he did go far and beyond for our community and our children," Crayton wrote. "He coached my boys in football and was like a second father to them. There was nothing he wouldn't do to help anyone."

Hollis agreed that Hunter's work with kids in the community was demonstrative of the unconditional love he showed everyone.

"He went beyond his job as code enforcer,” Hollis said. “As we all are well aware, he would take it upon himself to go and mow yards that were not up to code. He did not have to do that, but he chose to do it. I feel we owe at least this small thing to him."

Those who wish to sign the petition can do so online at http://www.change.org/petitions/the-city-of-jacksonville-texas-make-november-1st-stacy-hunter-day.

Or, those who wish to sign the hand petition can contact either Hollis at lucindahollis@hotmail.com or Veronica Hunter at mhunter20032001@yahoo.com.