Local eatery treats families to early holiday meal

Cris Ritchie — Editor

December 13, 2013

HAZARD—The families of several children who had already been treated to an early Christmas through the annual Shop with a Trooper program were treated again on Thursday, this time to a holiday meal.

El Azul Grande in Hazard hosted many of the 77 children selected to participate in last week’s Shop with a Trooper program, and also their families, giving them a free meal. This was the first year the restaurant made the offer, and it was an idea from one of the Kentucky State Police’s newest troopers that brought it together.

“This all stemmed from the Shop with a Trooper program,” noted Tony Vaughn, who along with Frank Childers is a co-owner of El Azul Grande. According to Vaughn, who is also the police chief in the city of Vicco, Trooper Luke Pridemore approached him about the idea of doing something extra for the children who participated in the program.

“After discussing it back and forth with Trooper Pridemore, we came up with a plan to feed the kids and their families, off his suggestion,” Vaughn explained.

Pridemore, a former vehicle enforcement officer and a resident of Knott County, graduated from the state police academy on Nov. 19. He is currently with Post 13 in Hazard, covering Perry County. He said the idea was simply to give something extra for these families during the holiday season.

“I’m a family-oriented person, and I think that it’s good to bring the kids out with the family to have a good sit-down meal, and hopefully help them have a better Christmas,” he said.

The Shop with a Trooper program in the Post 13 area covers five counties: Perry, Knott, Breathitt, Letcher, and Leslie. Vaughn said he was happy to pick up the tab for these families, and expressed gratitude for the Kentucky State Police and Trooper Pridemore in their efforts to give back to the community. Beth Back, owner of Barnyard Boutique in Hazard, also sponsored Thursday’s event.

“We hope this becomes an annual thing,” Vaughn added. “If we could do this every year it would be fantastic.”