Christopher Martin said the death of Chester Police Officer James Brockmeyer last month hit the Randolph County community hard.
“We are a close-knit community,” said Martin, the director for Randolph County Economic Development. “Officer Brockmeyer was fairly new to the police department, but he was well-known to the folks in the community because he worked as a volunteer firefighter.”
Brockmeyer died on Oct. 28 from injuries he sustained in an automobile crash during a pursuit north of Chester. The crash happened about 10 p.m. on Palestine Road in rural Randolph County, about two miles north of Chester. The man who police say Brockmeyer was chasing, Jason M. Stoker, 34, of Chester, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Brockmeyer’s death.
Martin said the newly created Community Foundation of Randolph County wants Brockmeyer’s name to live on with the formation of the James I. Brockmeyer First Responder Memorial Endowment fund. The foundation, which was launched earlier this year, will manage the endowment.
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“We want people to remember him for decades,” said Martin, who serves as president of the foundation.
The community foundation was formed, Martin said, when two Randolph County groups — the Regional Leaders and the Randolph County Progress Committee — decided to pool their resources and start a non-profit organization to assist the county. The groups were scheduled to meet on the day of Brockmeyer’s funeral but postponed their meeting to honor his memory.
“We were communicating via email on which later dates we could meet and we said, why don’t we do something to honor this young man who served as a police officer and a fireman?” Melanie Johnson, the foundation’s secretary, said in a news release. “So we did and we decided to move $5,000 to the community foundation to start the endowment.”
Once the endowment grows, county groups will be able to request funding in Brockmeyer’s name. The foundation has two growth funds, a Scholarship Fund and a Good Deeds Fund. All money donated to the foundation is tax-deductible.
“We hope people from all over the region will help us grow these funds,” Martin said.
Martin said the group will launch its first fund drive soon. He’s eager to see what kind of difference the foundation will make for the county.
“It will help a lot of groups,” Martin said. “I’ve had experience with other foundations. It’s amazing what a foundation like this can do to enhance a community.”
Donations can be made to the foundation by mail at 1 Taylor St., Room 106, Chester, IL, 62233. For more information, contact Martin at 618-826-5000, ext. 221 or visit the group’s website www.cfrandolphco.org/about-us.html.