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Cooking for the community

SOUTH POINT — The weather Friday night was just cool enough for a cookout. So when Joe Freeman called out through the mike at the bandstand the words everyone was waiting to hear, a slight cheer went up.

“The food is ready. Anyone who wants to eat, the food is ready,” he said.

Suddenly, young and old lined up underneath the picnic shelter at the South Point Park for another Annual Staff Cookout, compliments of Freeman and his staff. Originally, the cookout was an event just for the staff at Freeman’s Health Management Nursing Services in South Point. But in the last couple of years it has grown into a community event that many look forward to each summer.

And to look at the hamburgers and hotdogs on the massive grill, Freeman was definitely prepared for the crowd that was showing up.

It took Tim Stormes, the picnic’s cook, three hours in the markets to come up with 300 hot dogs and seven 40 count boxes of hamburgers, besides buns, bags and bags of chips and ice chests of soft drinks. Buddy’s Barbecue in Huntington donated 300 quarts of baked beans, which were housed in a black chest that look like a safe. All this was because Stormes was anticipating cooking for about 600.

“This started out as a small pizza party for the staff,” said Stormes, who is the supervisor at Health Management. “ I asked Joe to play one year and it has boomed ever since.”

Throughout the evening Freeman and his bluegrass band played as the crowd enjoyed food and fellowship.

Barbara Sites from Coal Grove tried out the event last year for the first time and was back again this July.

“It is nice of him to do this for the whole community,” she said. “It was packed last year and it will be packed this year.”

And as the cars lined up in the grass lot by the park, it looked as if her prediction would come true.