Riley Fund, Sanders Contracting upgrade Junior Leader stand

Friday, July 21, 2017
Checking out their new headquarters at the Putnam County Fairgrounds are Junior Leaders (from left) Dillon Sutherlin, Gayle Baugh, Adrianna Clifford, Lauren Harper, Philisha Sanders, Elaina Wyeth and Eric Hinkle.

The very building in which an outpouring of generosity raised $20,000 in memory of a local 4-H’er who died tragically will now also bear the most lasting monument to that generosity.

It was at the Farm Bureau Indoor Arena during the 2014 4-H Livestock Auction that Riley Sutherlin’s hog sold for $15,000 and donations brought in another $5,000 in the Sutherlin’s memory.

Coming barely a month after Sutherlin’s death in a tractor accident, the funds were a way for the community to reach out to a grieving family.

A plaque on the outside of the new Junior Leader stand at the Putnam County Fairgrounds Indoor Arena bears not only the likeness of the late Riley Sutherlin, but also the names of the groups responsible for the new stand, The Riley Memorial Fund, Sanders Contracting and Putnam County Junior Leaders.

Riley’s parents, Ron and Alana Sutherlin, along with their children Kendra and Dillon, began looking for ways to give back to the 4-H and FFA community through the money raised.

On Thursday, in the very same room where the money was raised, they unveiled a completely upgraded and redesigned 4-H Junior Leader concession stand.

“One day we were sitting here and realized how nice the arena looked and how bad the concession stand looked,” Ron said.

Celebrating the new Junior Leader concession stand built in memory of Riley Sutherlin, members of the Sutherlin Family, the Putnam County 4-H Junior Leaders and Sanders Contracting gather at the fairgrounds on Thursday. Helping with the unveiling are (front from left) co-secretary Gayle Baugh, president Adrianna Clifford, vice president Dillon Sutherlin (holding a picture of his older brother), co-treasurer Philisha Sanders and Elaina Wyeth of the Junior Leaders club; (back) co-secretary Eric Hinkle, Kendra Sutherlin, co-treasurer Lauren Harper, Ron and Alana Sutherlin, Kim Beadles and Mark Evans of Purdue Extension, and Bill Sanders, Benjamin Sanders and Phillips Sanders of Sanders Contracting.

The Sutherlins began looking into their options and took their idea to 4-H Youth Educator Mark Evans, who presented it to the Junior Leaders club, which includes Dillon, the youngest Sutherlin child, as vice president.

The Junior Leaders were all excited by the possibility, including current co-treasurer Philisha Sanders and older sister Michayla Sanders, who completed her 4-H career last year.

The two young ladies told their father Phillip Sanders about the idea. Phillip wanted to get his business, Sanders Contracting, even more involved with the project.

“It really kind of exploded into what it is,” Ron Sutherlin said.

That “explosion” includes and enclosed, air-conditioned stand with sliding windows, a stone counter, brick veneer under the counter and even black, dry-erase panels above the windows.

“Sanders just went all out,” Alana Sutherlin said.

Those dry erase panels, besides providing a place for menus or other messages, will even be a source of fundraising for the Junior Leaders. For $20 per event, the panels can be rented during the fair for special messages.

The air conditioning is also helping keep the concession stand staffed this year.

“Usually it’s hard to find workers, but it is full for every shift this year,” Alana said.

And while the Sutherlin’s credit Sanders for turning the project into exactly what it is, Phillip Sanders said he was simply glad to be a part of it.

“We want to thank the Sutherlin family for letting us be a part of this memorial to Riley, “ he said.

Ron Sutherlin is similarly self-effacing.

“This is not just the Riley Fund, but it’s also Sanders Contracting and the Junior Leaders,” Ron said. “It may have been our brainstorm, but it’s a credit to the community and to Sanders Contracting. I hope people enjoy looking at it and stepping up and supporting the Junior Leaders.”

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  • What a beautiful way to turn a tragedy into an inspirational thing. May many young people benefit and appreciate what this means for 4H.

    -- Posted by your mom on Sat, Jul 22, 2017, at 3:40 AM
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