The "Got Caught Reading" program began recently. Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts was the second guest as he read to children at the Hardy bookstore on June 22. The sessions are held on Wednesdays, from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. Greg Bess, owner of Words and Afterwords said, "The program is designed to allow our young kids the ability to interact with key figures in the community, including firemen, policeman, doctors, judges, mayors and so on." He hopes to build interest in the community by welcomingeach special guest weekly.
The first guest of the program was A. Lafaye. Layfaye is a children's author who debuted her new picture book entitled "Walking Home to Rosie Lee" to the children at the debut reading. Counts read to Ivy and Raven Schultz and explained to them the duties his job as sheriff entails. He presented the children with coloring books, a book mark and a special sheriff badge.
The sheriff explained to the children, law enforcement personel work to protect them and tried to assure them not to be afraid of any public safety official, as they were all there to help them.
Bess said the program was an idea of his late wife, JaNoel, who was always afraid of police officers until late in life. He said she felt that parents were doing their children an injustice by telling them police officers would punish or control them.
Future guests for the program include Juvenile Court Judge Kevin King and County Judge Larry Brown. Artist Dewana Goings will also read to the children in the program.
Bess said he is very hopeful the program will continue to grow and welcomes any local community or civic leaders to take part.
He would like to see as many children as possible participate in the free program.