Angelina Alliance For Children Names New Building

Lufkin Police Chief Scott Marcotte holds a picture of the late Lt. Harold Cottle alongside wife Ruby Cottle, daughter Heather Kartye and Angelina Alliance for Children Executive Director Mona Hill.

Lt. Harold Cottle Jr. was the son of  local resident Harold Cottle Sr., and brother of Larry Cottle of Eastland.

By MELISSA CRAGER/The Lufkin Daily News

To the outside world, Harold Cottle was an average guy.

He had a wife and three kids. As lieutenant for the Lufkin Police Department, he oftentimes worked nights so he could go back to school to earn his masters in Psychology and his licensed professional counselor certificate.

He was best known for his pranks at the police department and his mischievous grin.

But Cottle also had a vision to bring together local agencies to help protect victimized children — the ones he saw so often on the streets of Lufkin.

Angelina Alliance for Children became his brainchild. The agency, initially formed in 2001, collaborates with the police department, prosecuting attorneys’ office and Child Protective Services, as well as local hospitals and other counseling organizations, following the sexual or physical abuse of a child.

“This was his chance to do something good,” daughter Heather Kartye said. “The work of a police officer can be frustrating. He saw the worst side of the community. Having to deal with the victims of crimes, he saw this as his chance to give back and make sure victims are treated like they need to be treated.”

Cottle died on Oct. 7, 2007, from renal cell carcinoma. While, his kidneys may have failed him, his legacy lives on through the work of the Alliance.

The agency allows child victims of sexual and/or physical abuse to tell their story one time to a trained forensic interviewer, minimizing their trauma through a child-friendly environment.

Following a move to its new office in Oct. 2010, the Alliance named its new building in the late police officer’s honor, Harold’s House.

The former T.L.L. Temple Foundation office will now host children and their families who have faced some of the scariest times in their lives.

Lt. Harold Cottle

“Harold was a good father and family always meant a lot to him,” wife Ruby Cottle said. “This was a good calling for him. In the end, it became the most important thing in his life.”

Ruby Cottle said the development of the Alliance was dear to her husband’s heart, adding he was in the middle of the project before letting her in on it.

“He didn’t elaborate a lot, but I was proud of him,” Ruby Cottle said. “He had a passion for it. He would often joke and cut up, but this was different. It meant so much to him.”

Long hours working on the immense project and development of an entirely new child advocacy center, many times kept Harold away from home, but looking back, the family didn’t mind too much.

“It was my sacrifice, too,” Ruby Cottle said. “I mowed the lawn and took care of the kids, but I didn’t think about it. This was something he wanted and needed to do.”

LPD Chief Scott Marcotte worked alongside the lieutenant for 21 years.

“He looked at things differently than other police officers,” Marcotte said. “He wanted what was best for women and children. He would always dive in full force. He knew that we could do better in our area for our kids. We’re so often geared at getting rid of the bad guy, but Harold reminded us we also have to see to the needs of the victims.”

The week before Cottle died, he attended his final board meeting for the Alliance. Executive Director Mona Hill asked him what they should do without him.

“He told me, ‘Just keep doing what you are doing,’” Hill said. “So now we ask ourselves, ‘Is this what Harold would have wanted?’”

Cottle once said, “Children are our legacy, our gift to the future. Each time a child is abused, the pain and suffering scar the entire community. If our society is to survive, each and every one of us has the obligation to do everything within our power to protect the innocence of our children.”

The Alliance uses that mindset in their work every day, Hill said.

There are 64 child advocacy centers in the state of Texas. A couple of programs have modeled after the one in Angelina County, Hill said.

Harold’s House will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. and an open house until 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Everyone is invited to attend to see the work being done at the Alliance.

Melissa Crager’s e-mail address is mcrager@lufkindailynews.com.

http://lufkindailynews.com/news/local/article_ba5a13ec-eb50-11df-8179-001cc4c002e0.html