Celebrating 65 years of community service in East Concord
The Rev. Joe Bayne led the invocation, and the award ceremony was kicked off by Master of Ceremonies Paul Lawton of North Collins. Nickel City Roadshow’s Mike Margerum provided entertainment for the night.
Fire Chief Matthew Willibey complimented his crew and praised their efforts. He noted that the East Concord Fire Hall answered 3,210 calls in 2011 and put in a total of 1,590 training hours. Charles Porter, Kate Johnson and Brandon Willibey received honorable mentions for completing a firefighter boot camp. Willibey also informed those present that the fire department has purchased a new, four-inch hose. The new equipment should be ready to use in June. He also thanked the Concord Town Board for its continued support of the fire department. “You make our life a lot easier; you understand what we do.”
The first awards went to three firefighters who presenters said went above and beyond during a dispatch call: Michelle Sum, Nick Siminski and James Zunner. All three received certificates of appreciation for their services.
Sylvia Browne, mother of Explorer President Angelia Browne, donated a gift of art to the East Concord Fire Hall to honor the firefighters’ services.
Andrew Wagner, Ryan Willibey James Zunner, Mark Wagner and Susan Wagner received awards for their services. Baker and her husband Greg received awards for 20 years of service, along with Dale Lightcap and Lori Ploetz. Hap Bettinger and Fire Chief Matthew Willibey were awarded for 25 years of service. Awarded for 30 years of service to the East Concord Fire Department was Keith Ploetz.
Rewards for top 10 responders were given to those firefighters with the most hours: Kate Johnson with 316 hours, Stacey Keller with 305 hours, Hap Bettinger with 283 hours, Walter Sum with 267 hours, Dave Farrington with 261 hours, Randy Roth with 260 hours, Bob Heim with 238 hours, Michelle Sum with 238 hours, Mark Wagner with 236 hours and Nick Siminski with 232 hours.
Firefighter of the year was awarded to James Zunner.
An award was presented to Willibey by his brother, Michael Willibey, who spoke on his brother’s “passion and dedication as a firefighter.” Saying that the two brothers “clung onto their childhood dream of becoming firemen,” Willibey said that, when they were old enough, they “took the journey together, first becoming EMTs together and eventually firefighters, moving higher up in the ranks as their devotion would allow.” Willibey recognized his brother for his service to the East Concord Fire Hall and his community.
Matthew Willibey presented Karen Miller and Kim Willibey, both spouses of firefighters, with awards for their moral support in firemen affairs.
Town of Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito said he was “impressed with what East Concord does with its youth and the peace of mind the fire department offers. Because of their selflessness, we sleep knowing if we need them they will be there to answer our call,” Eppolito said, before presenting a proclamation to Willibey and President Ronald Miller.
The officers of the East Concord Fire Hall were sworn in with the installation oath.
Bayne concluded the night with a benediction.