Hughes was bringing a giant $100,000 check, that included the proceeds of her May 5 Bee-Cookin BBQ Cook-Off and a handsome contribution from her husband, oilman Dan A. Hughes.
Hughes thanked the firefighters who had helped in the fund-raising event at her family’s sprawling Charco Ranch and said she had both bad news and good news.
“The bad news is that we decided not to have it again,” she told a packed training room at the station. “The good news is that we’ve decided to have it again, but we’re going to have it in the fall, when it’s not so hot.”
Many of the department’s members and supporters were in the training room upstairs in the fire station for the presentation. Most were wearing red Beeville Volunteer Fire Department T-shirts that Hughes had donated to the department.
“I don’t hardly know what to say,” Fire Chief Donald “Donnie” Morris admitted the next day.
When asked how long he thought it would take the department to raise $100,000 with its annual Chicken Barbecue fund-raising event, Morris said, “Probably 15 years, 20 years.”
The firefighters were not going to simply accept the check without showing their appreciation for the donation.
Morris reached into a tall cardboard box and pulled out a traditional, custom-made, white fire chief’s helmet.
The leather nameplate on the front of the helmet read, “Honorary chief, Brenda Hughes, Beeville FD.”
It bore a brass fireman’s badge and had a brass eagle on the crown of the helmet to hold the nameplate in place.
The helmet came equipped with a protective hood and flip-down eye protection.
“That was my idea,” Morris said. “It’s the traditional helmet.”
Hughes was quite impressed, and she donned the helmet with a huge grin.
Morris said the money will go into the department’s equipment fund and will be used primarily to provide turn-out gear (helmets, coats, pants, boots and gloves) for new members of the volunteer organization.
It costs the BVFD a couple of thousand dollars to equip a firefighter with the protective attire.
Some of the money will be used to buy other equipment that the department needs. But Morris said all expenditures from that fund must be approved by a vote of the BVFD members.
When asked when he thought the next barbecue cook-off will be, Morris said it would probably be sometime in the fall of 2013. “That’s what she’s shooting at right now.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.