CABOT Eddie Joe Williams, former Cabot mayor and state senator, will be on the hot seat during the annual Cabot Scholarship Foundation’s Roast & Toast Banquet, set for March 8 in the Cabot Junior High School North cafeteria.
Williams recently resigned as state senator after taking a position on the Southern States Energy Board as the federal representative, after being appointed by President Donald Trump.
Williams said he’s not sure if “honoree” for a roast and toast is the right word, but he looks forward to helping with the annual fundraiser.
“That word doesn’t come to mind when you’re getting your hide taken off and roasted,” Williams said with a laugh.
“I think this is just an extension of our community,” he said. “It’s a good example of a product that comes out of a community [with a focus on] education. This gives kids an opportunity to compete for scholarships that are in a much smaller bucket of names, so to speak.
“You’re not competing with the lottery scholarships or these colleges that have 100,000 kids looking for 10 scholarships. This really reduces it down to the kids who, for the most part, grew up here and spent their entire school years here. It’s just an opportunity for the community to give back to them.”
John C. Thompson, chairman of the Cabot Scholarship Foundation, said this is the 23rd year of the Roast & Toast.
“It’s our only fundraiser,” he said. “The scholarships are given, or sponsored, by individuals in the community, businesses in the community or civic organizations in the community. A large number of them are sponsored by employees of the Cabot School District. Some people will give quite a bit of money and have an endowment set up for the scholarships every year.”
Thompson said the committee looks for a roastee who has been active in the community.
“Some years, it’s people who have been involved with the students at school,” Thompson said. “Like Eddie Joe — he’s been the mayor of Cabot and state senator for this year. He’s been very active in the community. Then you try to pick people who are well-known. It’s our only fundraiser, so we like to sell quite a few tickets to it. It’s good-natured, having someone get up there, picking at them.
“I always remind the roasters that the roastee always has the last word.”
Roasters scheduled for the event are Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Cabot School District Superintendent Tony Thurman and Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher.
“I’ve told several people, including some who are going to roast me, that I live a pretty boring life,” Williams said. “I really am a boring person. I think they are going to have to make up stuff on me because I don’t know of anything in my life that is worth laughing about or worth roasting me over.
“[Thurman told me] that I was easy pickings. We’ll see.”
Williams also said Hutchinson was doing research on him.
“And Gary Fletcher, the reason I asked him is that I roasted him several years ago, and I really took his hide off,” Williams said. “He said, ‘I’ll never get a chance to pay you back.’
“I promised him then that I’d keep my word, and if I was ever roasted, he would get a shot at me.”
The Cabot Scholarship Foundation was established in 1992.
“It was started to raise scholarships for Cabot students,” said Thompson, who has been with the foundation since its inception. “We’ve grown every year with the support of the Cabot community.”
Thompson said that prior to this year, the foundation has awarded 939 scholarships totaling more than $974,000.
“There are 714 graduates this year, and we’ve got close to 300 applications,” Thompson said. “We’ll probably give out over 100 this year.”
Tickets for the event, at $30 each or $240 for a table of eight, are available at the Cabot High School office.
Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.