Sgt. Lee Russell Refuge Dedicated in Ceremony

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SPEAKERS & FAMILY - Speakers and family members who participated in the dedication of the Sgt. Lee Russell Wildlife Refuge. From left are State Senator John Stevens, State Representative Brock Martin, Carroll County Mayor Joseph Butler, Lt. Brad Lund of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Cherry and Steve Russell, Beth and Travis Russell with children Demi (between them) and Piper in front, Mandi Russell (Lee’s wife) holding daughter Tenley and son Connor in front, TFWC Commissioner Monte Belew, TFWC Chairman Thomas Woods, TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon and member of Carroll County Shooting Sports Park Board, Kennry McBride.[/caption]

HIGHWAY PATROL TEDDY BEARS - Several members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol presented Highway Patrol teddy bears to Connor and Tenley Russell, the children of the late Sgt. Lee Russell. Lee’s wife, Mani, is also pictured with the children.[/caption]

RESOLUTION PRESENTATION - Senator John Stevens and House Member Brock Martin presented a framed resolution to the Russell family that was passed in the General Assembly honoring Lee. From left are House member Brock Martin, Piper and Demi Russell in front of Beth Russell, Travis Russell, Cherry and Steve Russell, Connor Russell (partially hidden) Mandi Russell holding Tenley Russell and Senator John Stevens.

PRESENTATION OF COLORS - The presentation of colors was presented at the beginning of the ceremony.

THE SIGN - The family of the late Sgt. Lee Russell’s family looks at the refuge sign in his honor.[/caption]

TOSH BROTHERS - Tosh Farms of Henry provided the lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs following the dedication ceremony of the Sgt. Lee Russell Wildlife Refuge Friday at the Carroll County Shooting Park Range. From left are Jamie and Jonathan Tosh who were present for the ceremony.

“He left a legacy as a hero”

By Shirley Nanney

Carroll County News-Leader Editor

The word “hero” was used numerous times to describe Sgt. Lee Russell during the dedication ceremony Friday of the 570 acre refuge named in his honor on Friday.

A large gathering came together at the Carroll County Shooting Park to recognize Russell who gave his life in law enforcement while searching for drugs in aTHP helicopter in August 2022.

During the ceremony, TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon spoke of Sgt. Russell’s dedication to his job and life of service..

“Today we are here to honor the life of a true hero, Sgt. Lee Russell, who made a life sacrifice in the line of duty, “ said Maxedon. “This is a reminder of the dedication and life of service that people who serve in the Highway Patrol and Wildlife Resource Agency. do.”

He went on to say that it’s not every day that TWRA names anything after an individual.

“In fact, it’s pretty rare,” he said. “ It’s an honor we reserve for those that truly earn it.”

Maxedon described Sgt. Russell as a person who had an unwavering determination to protect the law and citizens and one who served as an inspiration to all.

He added that not only today is his sacrifice honored, but the values he stood for and the values that are shared with law enforcement agencies to carry on a commitment to justice.

He offered that Russell’s family is to be recognized.

“Their resilience and strength deserve our utmost respect,” he said. “He will live on in the hearts of those who loved him. He was compassionate about outdoor recreation and law enforcement.”

Maxedon mentioned that Sgt. Russell leaves an incredible legacy behind and TWRA is proud to support that legacy with the dedication of the Wildlife Refuge.

During the ceremony the honor guard posted the colors with Jeruna Cozart singing the National Anthem and Lt. Greg Barker praying and leading the pledge.

TWRA Chairman Tommy Woods introduced TWRA Chairman Tommy Woods who said that he had talked with Commissioner Monte Belew who asked that a refuge be named for Sgt. Russell.

“Today we are honored to and pleased to honor his request.”

Senator John Stevens and State Representative Brock Martin presented family members with framed copies of a joint resolution honoring Sgt. Russell from the General Assembly.

“We are indebted to Sgt. Russell who gave his life,” he said.

County Mayor Joseph Butler said he appreciated his family being there along with the many people who came for the dedication.

“Sgt. Russell would be the first to say that you made his life what it was,” said Butler. “Sgt. Russell was a true hero. He saved lives, rescued people, chased down criminals and supported missions.”

He added that being County Mayor led him to become Sgt. Russell’s friend.

“We miss him at the Carroll County Airport,” said Butler. “I was grateful to be his friend.”

He added that Sgt. Russell was an incredible public servant who walked honorably and served humbly.

“He was the type Christian man we all should aspire to be,” said the County Mayor.

Commissioner Belew talked about what a great friend Sgt. Russell was to him. Russell served as a deputy when Belew was sheriff in Henry County.

He said Russell was a friend that he could call day or night and knew him as always being dependable, trustworthy, fearless and forgiving.

He said he could call him at 2 a.m. in the morning to go duck hunting or search for a lost child.

Belew gave credit to Mark Rich and Lt. Greg Barker for their assistance with the refuge.

“Just remember when you see ducks fly over, he is still with us,” said Belew. “His legacy will live on forever with us.”

Lance Rider, former TWRA officer, and who was Sgt. Russell’s trap shooting coach, recalled that he was the team’s squad leader. His team won the state championship once.

U.S. Congressman David Kustoff and Gov. Bill Lee spoke through video.

Kustoff said he couldn’t think of a better way to honor him than to name a refuge for him.

“That’s a true honor for someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Gov. Lee said Lee was truly a hero.

“He was blessed to be in law enforcement,” he said. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Kenny McBride, former county mayor, under whose administration the park was built, said Lee and his brother Travis were two of he and Rider’s first team members.

“We have talked about how we could honor him,” he said. “The board decided to dedicate the sports park in Lee’s honor. A plaque will be put up at a later date.”

In closing the dedication ceremony, Maxedon unveiled the Sgt. Lee Russell Refuge sign.