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Jones Park Dedicated In Saugatuck, Mich.

July 3, 2014


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SAUGATUCK, Mich. -- Wednesday was a special day for the family of Vols' head coach Butch Jones as Jones Park was dedicated in honor of his late father, Lyle Jones, in their hometown of Saugatuck, Michigan. The elder Jones served as the police chief of the town for 25 years and 33 years overall on the force before retiring in 1993. He passed away at the age of 82 in 2009.

Here is the story from the Holland Sentinel on the emotional day

By Jim.Hayden
@hollandsentinel.com
(616) 546-4274

HOLLAND, Mich. -- The head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team has a picture of the former Saugatuck City police chief on his desk at work. "Coaching is creating change," said Butch Jones, adding that he often pauses and reflects on his father's photo. "That's what he did."

Jones spoke Wednesday morning at the dedication of Jones Park at the corner of Butler and Culver streets in downtown Saugatuck. The park, formerly known as Information Booth Park because the white Interurban depot building held pamphlets and maps about the area, is named after Jones' father Lyle, Saugatuck police officer sin 1960 and chief from 1968 to 1993. He was 82 when he died in 2009.

"This park will serve as a symbol of his love and dedication for the city of Saugatuck," Butch Jones said before a crowd of more than 100 people gathered around the half-acre park.

The site was recently renovated to include brick sidewalks, benches and trees. The depot was repaired and a plaque will be installed to commemorate the former chief. A temporary plaque was used for Wednesday's ceremony.

The $50,000 project is being paid for by the Jones family.

"It's emotional," Butch Jones said as he introduced his mother, wife, children and other family members.

John Kopacz, Lyle's brother-in-law, said the former chief influenced his decision to join the Michigan State Police.

"Lyle definitely had an influence on the people of this town," Kopacz said. "Most of the time, he'd guide them through difficult times in their lives."

Current Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department Chief Ken Giles, whose father was police chief in Douglas, said both men influenced his choice to be a police officer. "He was definitely one of my mentors," Giles said of Jones. "I could always talk to Lyle."

Bill Smith, former Michigan State Police commander of the Saugatuck post when the Saugatuck Dunes Correctional Facility was operating, pointed across the street to where police cruisers still park at city hall.

"I can still see his patrol car sitting there," Smith said, tears in his eyes as he recalled how Jones often helped elderly residents get to the pharmacy for medications or to pick up their groceries.

Gene Debbaudt, a retired FBI agent, was assigned to the area after the highly publicized Saugatuck bank robbery of 1991 that netted the thieves more than $350,000. The four perpetrators were eventually caught. One of them was a relative of mobster Ben "Bugsy" Siegel.

"Out of the chaos of that event grew a friendship I've treasured for 23 years," he said. "The man I was privileged to work with was not only a dedicated public servant, but he was also a dedicated family man."

Lyle's son Butch said three things about his father stand out -- his dedication and loyalty to the community; that he was a great role model; and that he influenced many lives.

"That's what life is all about -- impacting lives," he said.

 

 

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