Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
ONLEY -- Surrounded by family members and friends, Shakia Austin of Melfa sat inside the Pizza Hut restaurant patiently waiting to see the building be dedicated to her late uncle, Johnny Strand.
Matching her mother and several others in attendance Saturday, Austin wore a white T-shirt printed with a picture of Strand and the nickname, "Uncle J" written beneath in cursive letters.
"I came to celebrate my uncle and remember how kind he was to people, how kind he was to me," Austin said. "He tried to help anybody and everybody."
More than 30 people gathered inside the restaurant to attend the dedication ceremony to Strand, a former manager there well-known for his kind personality and generosity.
Strand, who had worked at Pizza Hut since it opened in 1990, was slain three months ago. Shortly after he was reported missing, the 49-year-old manager was found dead inside his Melfa home May 1.
Fernando Carrillo Sanchez, 23, of Accomac was charged with second-degree murder after being located by nearby residents, according to the Accomack County Sheriff's Office.
As a way to help remember Strand and his many contributions, a small plaque was recently made and affixed to a dining room wall inside the restaurant.
Pizza Hut employee Jason Bennett of Onancock, who had worked with Strand for five years, reflected on Strand's cheerful and encouraging attitude while he waited for the plaque to be unveiled by District Manager Gil Liberty.
"He had a smile on his face every morning," Bennett said. "And he always strived for the best in us."
Liberty's comments immediately mentioned Strand's importance.
"He meant so much not only to this restaurant but so much to our franchise as a whole," Liberty said.
In addition to the plaque, a scholarship fund in Strand's name is also in the process of being established.
According to Liberty, the fund will be awarded each year to one senior each from Nandua and Arcadia high schools who "understands what kindness is," just like Strand had.
Liberty hopes several individuals will make donations so students can apply for the scholarship next year.
Once the plaque's covering was removed by Liberty, Strand's former co-workers, friends and family members lined up to see the small nameplate on the wall beside the kitchen door --a spot where Strand stood as he greeted customers.
"Welcome to Johnny's Place," the plaque reads, written below a picture of Strand standing in front of the restaurant.
Last month, Austin began working at Pizza Hut because she felt that working there is what Strand would've wanted.
She's working toward following in her uncle's footsteps and "making the service great" for customers.
"I know he's smiling down on me telling me I'm doing a good job," said Austin.
Monday, May 3, 2010
The Pocomoke Pizza Hut at Route 13 and Linden Avenue was robbed late Friday night.
Anyone with any information on the robbery or the suspects is asked to call the Pocomoke City Police Department at (410) 957-1600 or the Worcester County Bureau Of Investigations at (410) 352-3476.<>