Fishing tournament and scholarship has become a public service

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Recently, two Southampton Academy graduates received scholarships from the proceeds of the ninth annual Christopher D. Ray Public Safety Memorial Scholarship Fishing Tournament — named for Southampton County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher D. Ray, who was killed in a fatal car accident while on patrol in August 2009.

The tournament and scholarship program started as a way for one of Ray’s friends, John Barksdale, to honor Ray’s memory.

But since its inception, it has grown in success to have become a community service. The money raised each year from the tournament benefits recent high school graduates who seek to pursue careers in law enforcement or other public safety-related fields.

Barksdale has said that this year was one of the best to date for the tournament, which raised over $10,000 for the foundation’s fund and hosted more than 20 boats.

One of the common complaints we hear is that there are too few full-time employment opportunities to keep young people in rural communities like Franklin and Southampton County. We hope for the continued success of this tournament and scholarship fund so that more young people will choose not only to pursue careers in public safety, but also choose to return and safeguard their home communities.