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Jefferson County honors its unsung heroes

October 14, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Fifteen police, fire and emergency medical personnel were honored Wednesday night during the Public Service Recognition Banquet at Charles Town Races & Slots for outstanding accomplishments in their fields.

Ed Smith, operations manager for the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority, was recognized in the career emergency medical services category.

The Jefferson County Ambulance Authority was established in 1999 after volunteer ambulance crews said they were having trouble responding to a growing number of calls in the county, which totalled about 3,000 a year at the time.

The department has grown significantly under Smith's direction, and this year the ambulance service was named the West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services Agency of the Year during the 28th annual West Virginia Emergency Medical Service Conference at Snowshoe Mountain, W.Va., officials at the banquet said.

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Every year, an attempt has been made to nominate Smith for the award, said Wendy Bowman, a paramedic with the ambulance service.

But Smith declined each year, preferring that the award go to someone else, Bowman said.

"This year, we decided that we would not take no for an answer, and he reluctantly accepted," Bowman told the crowd at the banquet.

Smith, who also is chief of Independent Fire Co., began his emergency service career at the age of 16 in Lakemont, Pa. He joined Independent Fire Co. when he relocated to the area in 1974, Bowman said.

It is the fourth year the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has held the awards banquet.

When the first banquet was held in 1991, Mary Via said she always wanted to have such an awards program. Via, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said part of her interest in having the banquet could be traced to her father, Buddy Mays, who was a state police trooper in Jefferson County.

Police and rescue officials are honored in three categories.

In the volunteer emergency medical services category, those honored Wednesday night were Robert L. Edwards Sr., Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Co.; Rodney Michael Sauter, Friendship Fire Co.; David Swan, Independent Fire Co.; and Douglas Monroe Pittinger, Shepherdstown Fire Co.

In the fire services provider category, those honored were Earl Cogle Jr., Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Co.; W. Glenn Ramsburg, Citizens Fire Co.; Scott A. Biller, Friendship Fire Co.; Michael M. Hough, Independent Fire Co.; and Stephen J. Gorman, Shepherdstown Fire Co.

In law enforcement, those honored were George Michael Manning, Charles Town Police Department; Brian James Dolan, Harpers Ferry Police Department; Robert Shannon Sell, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department; William H. Roper, Ranson Police Department; and Geoffrey S. Petsko, West Virginia State Police.

"They're all winners (for) putting their lives on the line," said Edward "Pat" Dockeney, emcee of the banquet.

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