Saturday night could have turned out much differently for a local business in Marianna had it not been for an alert 12-year old. Clark Hatcher, twin brother Cason and their dad were driving on Lafayette Street when Clark spotted smoke and flames from the YOLO car lot and alerted his dad. In a conversation with Wesley, he advised the TIMES that he just assumed it was someone burning leaves and told Clark that also.
For those who know the Hatcher twins, you know they are pretty persistent in what they believe and Wesley said this time was no exception, “It became pretty evident Clark wasn’t going to let it go so I turned around and went back to the car lot and that’s when we saw the flames from the building and called the fire department.” As the saying goes, the rest is history.
Tuesday night at the Marianna City Commission meeting, Chief Nikki Lovett presented Clark with a certificated, “Last Saturday night, we got a call to YOLO car lot, located here in Marianna on Lafayette Street. Had it not been for Clark and his persistence to his father to turn around and go back, we possibly could have lost some structures because he spotted it and told his father, hey we need to go look at that and his father shooed him off and he was persistent about going back. Just as we arrived, the flames were starting to lap outside the building and I’m proud to say that due to our fast response, we were able to save the structure and they were able to open Monday morning for business. So, I am very thankful for this young man and his efforts and I think that whenever our kids do something good, we need to recognize them. I’d like to recognize Clark with a certificate from the fire department.”
Mayor Kenny Hamilton knows Clark well since Clark is a seventh grader at Marianna Middle School where Hamilton teaches science, “I also know Clark, he’s one of our students at the middle school. He’s an excellent student and it’s really good that he made the right decision. I’m proud of him, very proud of him.”
Marianna police chief Hayes Baggett also praised Hatcher for his efforts, “Clark Hatcher is a great example of See Something, Say Something. He saw something that did not look right and because he alerted others immediately, he prevented further loss of property and potential disaster.”
YOLO manager Zack Byrd was not aware of Chief Lovett’s presentation prior to the meeting. When notified, Byrd said he had been overwhelmed trying to regroup after Saturday’s fire, moving his office more or less into another building until repairs can be made to that building. He said Clark’s effort saved his business, “None of our titles were lost or damaged and that was a big relief. I am so grateful for Clark Hatcher. It is rare that in today’s society we find a young man as observant and attentive as him. To not only notice but to act on it. His actions saved us tremendously. We feel blessed to know we have such a great young man in our community.”
Byrd said Clark Hatcher’s actions will not go unnoticed and will be remembered for a very long time.
Clark Hatcher who his parents readily acknowledge is never at a loss for words said, “I saw the fire and told my dad and he said it was probably somebody burning leaves and I said no it was the building. And he didn’t really want to turn around but he did and yep it was the building. He called the fire department and they got there really fast. I didn’t think I’d get to come to a meeting and get a certificate.”
The publisher and staff of the Jackson County Times salutes Clark Hatcher for his persistent in ‘Seeing Something and Saying Something.’