The Texas Legislature granted J.R. Vicha’s wish, Billie Wayne Coble, the man who killed Vicha’s father and grandparents, has been executed, and now a bank account has been established to raise money to pay for a highway sign memorializing slain Waco police Sgt. Bobby Vicha.
J.R. Vicha and his sister, Jennifer Easter, spawned the idea to designate a portion of U.S. Highway 84 near Axtell in memory of their father, a veteran Waco police sergeant, and the Legislature made that a reality in the last session, passing House Bill 2615.
Vicha worked with State Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, and other legislators representing the area, and McLennan County commissioners passed a resolution supporting the legislation. But those promoting the highway designation still need to come up with $4,400 to pay for the highway signs, as laid out by the transportation code.
While supporters, including current and retired Waco officers who served with Bobby Vicha and members of the Waco Police Association, have pledged to help support the project, the extent of their participation remains unknown. So J.R. Vicha opened a bank account for donations toward the signs at Community Bank and Trust on Tuesday with an initial check from the law firm of John Mabry and John Lewis.
“I am excited that the only thing left to get the signs up is getting the Texas Department of Transportation the $4,416 for the cost of the signs,” Vicha said. “I’d like to personally thank Ben Lacy at Community Bank and Trust for helping set up an account for donations, and John Mabry and John Lewis of the Mabry Lewis Law Firm for their lead donation of $500, which was deposited into the community bank account. I also anticipate a donation from the bank in the near future.”
Vicha thanked Kacal and county commissioners for their help and said anyone wanting to donate to the sign fund can contact Lacy at Community Bank and Trust or mail donations to the bank in care of Lacy at P.O. Box 2303, Waco, Texas, 76703.
“We are close to turning this into a reality,” Vicha said.
Bobby Vicha was 39 and a well-respected 18-year veteran of the police department when Coble ambushed and killed him and his parents, Robert and Zelda Vicha, at their homes in Axtell in 1989. Coble spent almost three decades on death row before he was executed Feb. 28.
Ken Reeves, president of the Waco Police Association, said this week that the association intends to auction off two Glock pistols and a hunting rifle to raise money for its projects, including a donation to the Vicha memorial highway sign fund. Waco Police Association funds from the auction also will go toward efforts to assist officers with mental health issues and a fund to assist spouses of slain officers.
The Legislature also passed House Bill 1249, which designates a portion of U.S. Highway 84 near Mexia at the line between Limestone and Freestone counties the “Trooper Damon Allen Memorial Highway.”
Allen was shot and killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop on Thanksgiving Day 2017 on Interstate 45 in Freestone County. Allen was from Mexia.
His widow, Kasey Allen, said she has been told that the sign honoring her husband will be about $3,500. The Department of Public Safety Officers Association has promised to pick up the tab, she said.
“I have the money set back because I don’t like to ask for money,” she said. “If I was going to do it, I was going to pay it, but the troopers are trying to raise money to pay for the sign. They told me they don’t want me to have to worry about it. I am proud that it is happening and I am proud that Damon is being honored. The fact that people will remember him is a great thing. He should be remembered forever because he is a hero.”