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Fire department honors its own

By Staff | Mar 30, 2018

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle EMS Chief Marhall DeMeritt, left, and Fire Chief Ross Morgan, right, with Steve Matson, whom they selected as the 2017 Rookie of the Year.

Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department recognized the exemplary service of its members at its annual awards banquet March 17. Fire and Emergency Medical Service personnel, as well as administrative members, were recognized for their contributions to Company 3 and to the community.

Honorary Fire Chief Lexi Holmes accepted the honor for another year and assisted in handing out some of the evening’s recognition awards. Holmes, a junior at Jefferson High School, is the daughter of Chuck and Lynn Holmes and goddaughter of company treasurer Denny Barron.

After dinner, attendees enjoyed a short video showing some scenes from the previous year. Following the video, awards were presented in several categories.

Many members received Fire and Emergency Medical Service recognition for responding to hundreds of calls throughout the year. Top EMS responders for 2017 included Jonathan “Jersey” Stammer, who ran a total of 241 calls for the year. Coy Beverage ran 182 calls, followed closely by Jacob Oliver with 166 and Beth Stotler with 127. Top responder of the company’s officers was Craig “Twiggy” Simpson, president.

Stammer was top on the fire side of the company as well, running a total of 103 fire calls. Also topping out on the fire side were Marshall DeMeritt, Coy Beverage, Trevor Craker, Jacob Oliver and Zach Morgan. Top officer was Fire Chief Ross Morgan.

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Recognized for years of service at Saturday night’s banquet were, from left: Marshall DeMeritt, 10 years; Richard Clark, 25 years; Mike Athey, 60 years; Craig “Twiggy” Simpson, 35 years; Judy Pittinger, 40 years; and Jim Schmitt, 40 years.

For the first time in several years, the company recognized a “Rookie of the Year.” DeMeritt, who serves as EMS Chief, explained that he doesn’t like to give the award simply for the sake of giving it. This year, he said, the recipient has gone above and beyond to serve the community. Steve Matson, whom DeMeritt referred to as “an excellent example,” received the award.

Member’s Choice Awards were presented to members selected by their peers. A tie in the fundraiser category had Alex Shipley and Beth Stotler taking the awards. Fire Officer of the Year was Ross Morgan, while EMS Officer of the Year was DeMeritt. Denny Barron was once again recognized as the Administrative Officer of the Year for his service as treasurer of the company. Staff officer of the year went to Troy Baker, who had taken over the junior firefighter program, and Stammer won Live In member of the year.

Six members of Company 3 were called to the front of Barron Hall to commemorate their years of service to the company and to the community of Shepherdstown. Receiving his 10-year pin was Marshall DeMeritt. Richard Clark was recognized for 25 years of service, while Craig “Twiggy” Simpson celebrated 35 years and Judy Pittinger and Jim Schmitt both were recognized for 40 years of service. Sixty-year member Mike Athey received a standing ovation.

“If I could walk faster, you wouldn’t have had to stand so long,” Athey quipped when accepting his award.

Other awards presented included Business of the Year, Jefferson Security Bank, which has been partnering with the fire company for 25 years, as the sponsor of a golf tournament to raise dollars for the fire company.

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Mike Athey was recognized for his 60 years of service to the Shepherdstown Fire Department.

Ross Morgan presented the Fire Chief’s Award to Rick Spilman, a member who Morgan said, “has upheld the tradition of public relations that we cannot do without.”

Morgan explained that Spilman, an employee with Potomac Edison, has been a go-to person on many scenes when power lines were down or electricity needed to be cut off.

Marshall chose longtime member Doug Pittinger to receive the EMS Chief’s Award. Pittinger has served over the years as a captain, assistant treasurer, assistant EMS Chief, Squad Training Officer and trustee for Shepherdstown Fire Company. Pittinger, in his professional career, worked for Washington County Fire and Rescue for nine years before moving to th Martinsburg City Fire Department. After 20 years of service in that position, Pittinger worked as an EMS Technical Support Network member for the State of West Virginia and then as the Director of Jefferson County’s Emergency Services Agency where he retired in 2015.

President Simpson selected Scott Lanham as recipient of his President’s Award; however, Lanham was unable to attend the evening’s festivities.

DeMeritt took a few moments to acknowledge accomplishments of the EMS division of Company 3, sharing that for the second consecutive year the members have reduced response times, improving by nearly three minutes over two years.

“For the first time in the data I can access,” DeMeritt said, “we are exceeding the national response recommendation with an average response time below eight minutes.”

Barron also took time during the evening’s presentation to share financial information with the guests. The company, through its fundraising efforts in 2017, raised a total of $145,000 through 62 events. Many of those events included Wednesday night bingo; however, Barron explained that the Sportsman’s Bash garnered $31,000 while the annual apple butter making raised $21,000.