Sherburne Fire Dept. hosts annual awards banquet

SHERBURNE – Saturday night, March 31, the Sherburne Fire house transformed from apparatus bays to a banquet hall where 150 people gathered to enjoy a delicious meal catered by V&J’s Restaurant but, more importantly, to recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Sherburne Fire Department. In attendance, in addition to members and their families, were Honorary Inactive (retired) members and their spouses, Chiefs from Earlville, Smyrna, North Norwich and Hamilton, Chenango County Coordinator Matthew Beckwith, as well as Deputy Coordinators George Hanslmaier, Mike Beckwith, Harold Ives, Stephen Cady and Ken Wiggins and Town Supervisor Charles Mastro with Town Councilors Rowena Krum and Dave Wern, and SECS Superintendent, Gayle Hellert.

The evening started with the Pledge of Allegiance, as every Fire Department meeting does, and then after dinner, Chief Pat Lawrence gave his Annual Fire Report. Instead of talking about the number of fires fought or the number or ambulance calls, he talked about different numbers. He spoke about the number 1215, the number of hours members spent training in our station. This doesn’t include hours spent in State Fire and EMS classes. And 1030, the number of hours members spent serving our community as well as assisting neighboring communities, not including medical emergencies. Hours that call members away from their jobs and families without notice. And the last one shared here but not the last one he mentioned is 30,000, the number of dollars earned through department fund raising that was spent on a new 4 wheel drive crew cab pickup that will serve multiple purposes. Through fund raisers, department members continually purchase equipment needed to serve the community while keeping the taxpayer in mind. The volunteer fire service continues to be the only government entity, essential to small communities, that has to raise funds, to buy equipment, to volunteer to do a job. The full text of his report and a complete list of calls answered for 2011 will be in next week’s Sherburne News.

EMS Chief Dorothy Tarbell then reviewed the past year of the Ambulance Squad, the purchase of a new Horton ambulance, and the transition to paid staff, made possible by the dedication of our outstanding volunteer members.

The Installation of Officers ceremony was next. Officers for 2012 are: Chief Vern Palmiter, 1st Asst. Chief Mike Hodge, 2nd Asst Chief Jansen Casscles, Captain Paul Jones, 1st Asst. Captain Fred Jenkins, 2nd Asst. Captain Mike Jenkins, EMS Chief Jay Symonds, EMS Captain Dan Pudney, EMS Captain Jeremy Loveland.

Auxiliary President Gretchen Jones presented her members with certificates for years of service. Member Cindy Gardiner was presented with a plaque and flowers for her 30 years of dedicated service.

Explorer’s Advisor Dorothy Tarbell next brought the assemblage up to date on Explorer happenings. There are currently 16 very active Explorers. They attend training and assist at fires as well as fund raising efforts. Fire Department members were invited to come down on the Monday nights they are here to share their knowledge and have some fun.

Department members were then presented with their service awards. The “Special Year Awards” went to: Travis Aikins and Nova Frair – 5 years, Dan Pudney – 10 years, Paul Jones – 15 years, Jeremy Loveland – 25 years, Walt Reid – 30 years, Fred Baker – 45 years. Also of special note is Ed Ross, with 48 years of active service. Members were also recognized for the number of calls to which they responded and there were three members who made the 100+ Club this year. They are Jason Pierce with 109 calls, Jeremy Loveland with 114 calls and Dan Welc with 127 calls.

Two firefighters, Paul Jones and Rich Fuller, received the Training Award this year, not just for classroom hours they spent in-house and in state and county classes, but for their time as instructors, whether one-on-one or teaching a class.

The Chief’s Award went to a relatively new member. Ray Halbert’s only been here three years but has made a big impact on the appearance of our vehicles and takes pride in how we look.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Honorary Inactive member Dave Palmiter, who has a long family history with the department. He served in the Army in Vietnam and returned home to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter with his father and brothers. The department acknowledged his many years of fire service and the countless hours he dedicated to the department as a member of the Fire Council and the Pageant of Bands Committee. His wife, Celia, as well as his sons and their wives, were in attendance to help honor Dave.

Chief Lawrence thought that at this time it was time for the guest speaker but he was wrong. President Doug Shattuck and Chief Palmiter stepped up to present Pat with some gifts to mark the 15 years of leadership that he had given the department. In a show of appreciation for all he has done, the department meeting room will now be known as the “Chief Patrick Lawrence Meeting Room.” A gold lettered sign was presented and will be mounted above the doors to the room. A personal gift was also presented from the members.

Then it was time for the guest speaker. Mr. Christopher Petsas, the President of the Exempt Fireman’s Association of Poughkeepsie, came to thank the Sherburne Fire Department as well as Earlville and Smyrna Departments for their help in getting the “5 Year Rule” rescinded from the NYS Fallen Firefighters Memorial rules. He brought with him Friendship Bowls to give to each department to show his Association’s appreciation and brotherhood with all firefighters. Mr. Jake Miller and his wife, Jan, of Hamilton, were also in attendance, since it was Jake’s father’s line-of-duty death on Nov. 14, 1950, that sparked the change in the rule.

Outgoing President Shattuck’s closing remarks reminded all of the brotherhood of the fire service and Chaplain Frank Faulkner closed with a prayer.

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