Baptized by ‘Fire’, Pennington sees a strong community

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2002

Out of all his assignments in the last seven years, Sergeant Jamie Pennington enjoyed his time in Albert Lea the most.

Pennington, an officer in the Salvation Army, is returning to Rochester for family reasons after spending the last year heading up operations here in Albert Lea.

&uot;This is a beautiful city. People here all pull together and support each other, its not like some communities,&uot; Pennington said.

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It has been a challenging year for Pennington. The Farmland fire occurred only two weeks after his arrival.

&uot;I really was baptized by fire,&uot; the Sergeant said. &uot;It was a difficult situation that the community is still feeling the effects from. I’m still really pleased with how all the local groups came together to help the displaced workers.&uot;

Times immediately following the fire were hectic for Salvation Army workers. They stayed on the scene 50 hours following the fire to provide assistance for firemen, and then were bombarded by requests for food from displaced workers.

At one time the agency was assisting 475 families with food, rent and utility money.

The number of families seeking assistance who weren’t affected by Farmland has

also doubled thanks to the slacking economy.

In the last year Pennington has been involved in some positive projects too. The

Salvation Army is in the planning stages of building a new thrift store, and the recent donation of a box truck allows them to transport home furnishings. Location of the new store is set for

Front street across from the Channel View apartments.

With youth programs facing a declining enrollment, Pennington worked on the restructuring process. Now the programs focus on more educational activities, they have added a homework mentoring program, too.

Pennington will also miss Salvation Army staff members.

&uot;We can’t pay them very much, but they’re a really dedicated team,&uot; Pennington said.

Pennington takes with him wife Angie, daughter Ashley, and sons Michael and Zackary. The Penningtons are also adopting a baby boy, Noah, upon their return to Rochester.