POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The last thing drivers want to see in their rear view mirror is blue lights.
However, that sinking feeling quickly turned to a happy one for 20 drivers in Mason County who were randomly pulled over to receive $100 gift cards from Walmart.
The idea was started by Appalachian Railcar Services, which has a facility in Point Pleasant as well as in Putnam County, W.Va. The company fixes railcars which are in need of repair or scheduled maintenance. A similar giveaway was happening yesterday in Putnam County.
Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers said the company came to him with the idea of passing out $100 gift cards to those drivers who were obeying the law – driving the speed limit, wearing seat belts, not talking or texting, etc.
“This is a way to give back to the community,” Brett Russell, of Appalachian Railcar Services said.
Russell, who also lives in Gallipolis Ferry, added, the company has done well and wanted to show its generosity to the communities in which they operate. Appalachian Railcar funded 100 percent of the gift cards.
“We’ve been blessed so we’d like to share with others,” Russell said.
Russell rode with Sheriff Powers, while other traffic stops were initiated by Cpl. Ronnie Spencer and Lt. Troy Stewart.
Spencer’s first “traffic stop” was initiated at the boat landing, pulling over Carol Frazier of Point Pleasant, who is retired. Frazier, who said she’d only been pulled over once in her life “a very long time ago,” (so long ago she couldn’t remember what for at this point), was caught off guard and immediately told Spencer, “I’m sorry officer.”
Spencer quickly alleviated her fears and said she was pulled over because she was being a good driver who was obeying the speed limit and wearing her seat belt. Spencer then presented Frazier with the $100 gift card from Appalachian Railcar Services, to which she started to tear up and then ask, “Are you serious?”
Cpl. Spencer assured her he was serious and Frazier got out of her car and gave him a hug.
“I’ve never won anything in my life…whatever I have, I’ve always had to work for it, but this is a blessing,” Frazier said.
Powers said the first person he pulled over was a single mother who, when told she’d just been given a $100 gift card to Walmart, burst into tears.
“It was a lot of fun and a good experience,” Powers said about the day.
Though most of the time, deputies are on the lookout for people who are doing the wrong thing, as Powers put it, “Today we were looking for people doing everything right.”
Another traffic stop resulted in a couple receiving the gift card, telling Powers they could now go Christmas shopping for their child.
“It was nice to be able to give something back to the community and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Appalachian Railcar,” Powers said.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.