The Grovetown Department of Public Safety now has an honor no other in the area does: a department patch that has orbited Earth.
The department received a framed collage containing a department patch, a small flag and photos of the space shuttle Discovery, which carried the patch and flag on its most recent mission to the international space station.
"That is phenomenal, and to think it came all the way from ... space," City Councilwoman Rosa Lee Owens said when the frame was unveiled at Monday's city council meeting.
It was not a department or city official that got the items aboard the space shuttle, but a resident.
Dale Stoddard, a retired officer from the Clearwater Police Department in Clearwater, Fla., had something similar done for his Florida department.
He got a department patch taken on John Glenn's final trip to space in 1998.
"It is kind of cool," Stoddard said. "Nobody has done it around here."
After getting the OK from city officials to pursue the project in April, Stoddard said, he started calling and writing letters to congressmen for assistance getting the items aboard.
Stoddard said he got the project started and let the department handle it from there.
The patch and flag were sent to Houston to board the shuttle before its Oct. 23 launch. The shuttle made 238 orbits totaling 6.25 million miles.
The shuttle, led by astronaut Pamela A. Melroy, made its stop at the space station to deliver the Harmony module. The six-sided module links the U.S. and Russian sections of the space station.
After the Nov. 7 landing, NASA mounted the tiny flag and patch in a frame with photos of the crew, shuttle and lift-off.
The special delivery recently arrived through the mail.
"As far as I know, we are the second agency in Georgia, the first in the CSRA to do this," Stoddard said. "Grovetown is reaching into the 21st century."
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