MARIETTA - For three decades the Marietta Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has honored local police, fire and emergency management personnel with its Public Service Awards. The association marked its 30th year by presenting five more awards during a luncheon Tuesday at the Lafayette Hotel.
"Mayor Joe Matthews was one of our earliest recipients when he served on the Marietta Fire Department in the 1980s," said Rick Walters, president of the MAIFA, during opening comments.
He said the annual awards are well-deserved by members of the Marietta Fire Department, Washington County Firefighters Association, Marietta Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Office and Washington County Emergency Medical Services.
"Each group picks their own people for recognition every year," said Teresa Hushion, association secretary and coordinator of the event.
"When the first awards were presented 30 years ago, we only honored the city police and fire departments and county sheriff's office," she said. "Later we also added the county firefighters and EMTs."
Marietta Fire Department firefighter Jack Walters received this year's Public Service Award from Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.
"Jack has been with the department for 22 years, and has driven our pumper engine for the last 11 years," Durham said. "He's the guy everyone looks up to."
He noted Walters stepped up to take command at the main station when the June 29 derecho storm blew through the area, downing trees and power lines and wreaking havoc throughout the city. Durham said Walters' efforts in providing central communications enabled other personnel to get out and assist with the massive cleanup.
"I was very surprised when the chief called to tell me about this award," Walters said Tuesday, adding that his part during the derecho recovery was small.
"It was really pretty easy. I just happened to be one of the first into the station and began manning the radio, trying to keep things in order," he said.
Longtime Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department member Joe Fouss was the recipient of the county firefighters award.
"Joe is a charter member at Salem and has spent 39 years with the department," said Mike Lee, president of the firefighters association.
He noted that Fouss, 76, is retired but still runs with the department.
"Nine times out of 10 it's Joe's voice you'll hear on the radio when they're toned out," Lee said, adding that Fouss also stays to clean up after those incidents.
"This is great and it's really appreciated," Fouss said after receiving the award.
Retired since 1997, Fouss said he doesn't mind staying to clean up at the station after a run.
"Most of the younger guys have jobs and have to be there at 8 a.m. after being called out at 3 a.m. sometimes," he said. "I like to stay and help clean up so they can get to work."
Marietta City Police Chief Brett McKitrick presented this year's award to Sgt. Greg Nohe.
"Greg started with the department 26 years ago and worked his way up to the detective bureau, then became part of the Major Crimes Task Force," McKitrick said. "Later he took the department test to become a sergeant and passed. It was a hard decision for him to give up the 'higher profile' detective post, but he still chose to become a sergeant."
McKitrick noted Nohe works the midnight shift, but he and his team have double the number of arrests and issued citations of any other shift.
"He has his officers' backs and they have his back," he said. "It's a real team effort, and we're very proud of him."
Nohe said he has the privilege of working with a lot of good people.
"They do anything they can for the community, and hopefully what we do makes a difference in people's lives," he said.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said the officer selected for the honor by his department, Sgt. Scott Mankins, is no stranger to the Public Service Award.
"This is his third time to receive the award," Mincks said. "He does countless jobs for the department."
He credited Mankins for investigating a series of local burglaries last year and discovering all of the heists had been performed by the same individual who was eventually apprehended and jailed.
"I thank all of the people I work with as well as the administration. They're always willing to sit and listen to you, and that's how we put that case together last summer," Mankins said.
For Washington County Emergency Medical Services, Lowell-Adams EMT Bob Kubota received the Public Service Award from Mike Lee.
"We thank Bob for his many years of service with the department," Lee said, noting that Kubota had been injured following the June 29 derecho as he fell to the ground while trying to repair the roof of his home.
Kubota said he was honored to receive this year's award.
"It's quite an honor to be voted in by other EMTs throughout the county," he said. "These are the people I work with every day."
Former chief of the Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department, Kubota said he obtained his certification and started serving as an EMT in the early 1980s.