DeShong, Ford, Love Take Top HAVFCO Honors
In an unexpected turn of events Saturday night, firefighters from Hustontown and surrounding companies were unable to enjoy the food, fellowship and awards ceremony that were a part of the much-anticipated 46th annual firemen’s banquet at Hustontown Firehall.
Event emcee Berley Souders shared tales and jokes with the light crowd in attendance in hopes that Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. members would arrive in time to see the coveted awards of Firefighter, EMT and Ways and Means bestowed upon the company’s finest. With several fires in the county erupting prior to the dinner, Hustontown members spent several hours on the scene of a fire in Knobsville that burned eight acres.
Veering from the program’s outline, Souders eventually began the awards portion of the evening, noting that the recipients of the company’s largest awards are chosen by the membership at large. Therefore, peers and comrades on the scene determine who is deserving, Souders said.
Souders said he has known EMT Award recipient Becky Ford of Wells Tannery since she was born and years later when she would ride his father’s school bus. He referred to her as not only a fine citizen but a fantastic EMT, who has a great rapport with and knack for keeping patients and their families calm. In 2013, she logged 57 hours as one of the com- pany’s top-10 EMS responders.
Moving onto Ethan Love, Ways and Means Award winner, Souders said if it weren’t for the Ways and Means Committee members no one would be around to pay the company’s bills. The group’s biggest fundraisers include a Mother’s Day buffet, the Fulton Fall Folk Festival weekend, the annual fund drive as well as shooting matches and open stage nights.
According to the emcee, Love is a “transplant” to Fulton County and new to firefighting. He “hit the ground running” in 2013, logging 176 hours as the company’s top ambulance driver and third in firefighting hours with 180 hours.
Calling forward five previous firefighters of the year who were in attendance March 15, Souders pointed out four additional past award recipients were still on the scene of the Knobsville fire. He noted that a plaque is not an adequate thank-you for their service and dedication, eliciting a round of applause from the crowd.
“Volunteers make America what it is,” Souders said.
He stated Skyler DeShong, the 2013 Firefighter of the Year, has always been underfoot at the firehall alongside a long line of fellow firefighters in his family. Jesting that he watched him grow up from a “bratty kid” to a young adult and now a young man, Souders pointed out DeShong logged over 500 hours between the ambulance company and fire service last year.
In addition to DeShong and Love, other top fire responders in 2013 included Scott Roher, 188 hours; Eli Love, 171; Kodi Gartland, 141; Scott Vinson, 133; Tracy Miller, 125; Jeff Black, 123; Marty Clark, 108; and Chief Darius DeShong, 102.
Top EMS responders for the year were Ambulance Chief Brian Barton, 188 hours; Sheila Barton, 149; Missy Souders, 129; Christine Englert, 96; Barb Smith, 62.5; Scott Vinson, 45; Pam Karczewski, 18; Shelby Knepper, 15; and Jessica Smith, 8. Ambulance drivers logging significant hours were Scott Roher, 51 hours; Josh Rosenberry, 30.5; Tracy Cook, 27; Kenneth Englert, 26.5; Murray Romig, 23; Kodi Gartland, 17; Amanda Brown, 9.5; Marty Clark, 8.5; and Alton Tice, 6.5.
Although they were not in attendance due to being on the scene of the fire, 2013 Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Black and Assistant Fire Chief Otto “Marty” Clark were noted by company officials as being the winners of the Fire Chief’s Award typically awarded by Chief Darius DeShong.
Tracy Miller, company president for 2013, handed out two awards as part of the evening’s program, including the President’s Award and a special award of recognition. Receiving the President’s Award, Fran Hoover was said to have always stepped up to help regardless of whether the job entailed committee work or overseeing a project. The hours she has logged, Miller said, would equate to several lifetimes. He added she kept the company “running smoothly” following his surgery.
Also recognized by President Miller was Elner DeShong, who was given a special award of recognition for her time and dedication.
Deceased members remembered by the company included Raymond Martz, Bob Thomas, Lowell Lee Mellott and Robert Johnson.