A stretch of Highway 112 south of Cassville will be named in honor of Barry County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Castetter who lost his life in the line of duty on Nov. 27, 1986.
House Bill 56, the memorial highway bill that was introduced by Rep. David Sater, passed by a vote of 155-2 in early May. It is expected to also pass quickly through the Senate, where it will be handled by Sen. Jack Goodman.
The "Deputy Christopher Lee Castetter Memorial Highway" will include the portion of Highway 112 that runs from Highway 76 to Highway AA. Signs designating the memorial highway will be paid for by private donations. They will be erected and maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
The announcement of the memorial highway designation coincides with National Police Week. Castetter's widow, Christine Speno, is asking area residents and businesses to display blue ribbons in honor of officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities.
"During Police Week, there is nothing as powerful as the sight of blue ribbons flying from car antennas," said Speno. I can assure you it means a lot to any family or friends involved in law enforcement."
Speno credits Donna and Gary Allen with getting the highway dedication process started.
"As always, they are ever devoted to Chris' memory," said Speno. "Donna approached me about it, and I contacted Rep. Sater who then started the ball rolling and brought it to fruition. The family and friends of Chris are all grateful for Rep. Sater's assistance."
By renaming a portion of Highway 112 for Castetter, Speno believes his sacrifice will be remembered for years to come.
"I don't want anyone to forget his sacrifice or to forget that law enforcement serves us all every day," said Speno. "A glance at the statistics, unfortunately, shows us that an officer is lost on average every other day in this country."
Speno said a formal highway dedication will be held sometime this fall, 11 years after Castetter was murdered while responding to a suspicious vehicle call south of Cassville. An announcement will be made in the Cassville Democrat prior to the ceremony, which Speno will be coordinating.
Once the highway is renamed, Speno hopes those who drive on it will remember Castetter's contagious smile or the seriousness with which he approached his job as a sheriff's deputy.
"I would certainly hope that thoughts turn away from the horror of that time for the community, and turn instead to the peaceful notion that Barry County has a very special guardian at the gates of heaven," said Speno.
"For the officers that still serve the area, I would hope that seeing that road sign will help them take a part in carrying on his legacy and the pride which he took in wearing a law enforcement badge," Speno added.
Memorial stickers dedicated to Castetter are still available and a scholarship in his name has been established at Missouri Southern State University. Donations are always welcome. For more information, contact MSSU at Betebenner-C@mssu.edu.