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Shepherdstown Community Club event recognizes first responders

By Staff | Mar 1, 2019

Shepherdstown Community Club President Nancy Stewart speaks, during the First Responders Dinner at the War Memorial Building on Saturday. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Living up to their name, the Shepherdstown Community Club opened the doors of the War Memorial Building on Saturday, to host a potluck dinner honoring local first responders for the service they provide to the Shepherdstown area.

“One of our goals this year,” said SCC President Nancy Stewart, “is to do a lot more outreach. Our thought was that the best way to start was to recognize people everyone has a connection to.”

“You know,” Stewart laughed, “everyone has either called 9-1-1, or has gotten a ticket, or something.”

The idea for the potluck dinner originated with club member and vice president Jennifer Wabnitz, although she gives all credit to past president Mike Austin.

“It was Mike’s idea to reach out to more organizations in the community, so that we could be of service to them,” Wabnitz said.

The idea of a potluck helped make it an all-in community event, Stewart said.

According to Stewart, the club provided the meat, and members of the community added dishes to complete the meal.

“The first responder community was very responsive to this,” Stewart said. “The responders seemed stunned and didn’t expect to get such an invitation.”

Those invited to the evening’s recognition dinner included the Shepherdstown Police Department, Shepherd University Police, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Shepherdstown Fire Department and the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency. Several representatives from those agencies came out to enjoy the event, which included dinner, story sharing and musical entertainment by Steve Warner.

“We often under-appreciate our first responders, who are always on the job,” Austin said, as he shared some thoughts with the attendees. “In our community, I’ve had to call 9-1-1 three times.”

Austin then expounded on the first time, when he had broken his leg and needed assistance. He also praised former Police Chief Dave Ransom, who was on the scene of an automobile accident in which Austin’s wife was seriously hurt.

“Sadly, people of late, especially the media, tend to look for the negative,” Austin said. “We want to raise visibility of your role in the community, and help you where we can.”

Mayor Jim Auxer also took a few moments to commend the first responders for all their hard work in the community.

After enjoying a meal with club members and others in the community who wished to show their appreciation to the efforts of the first responders, fire department member and EMS chief Marshall DeMeritt shared his words of thanks.

“On behalf of the fire department, and I’m sure of the police departments as well, I want to say thank you,” DeMeritt said. “We do know how much we are appreciated and we want you to know how much we feel that. I’ve been here for 12 years now and it is always obvious how much this community appreciates us.”

Although Shepherdstown police officer Casey Yonkers was not able to attend the event, he wanted to make sure SCC members knew how much their thoughts and efforts meant to him. In a written note that was read on his behalf, he talked about how much he loves the residents of Shepherdstown.

“I consider you all my flock,” Yonkers’ note said. “I enjoy shepherding my flock.”