Departments honor police, firefighters of the year
Published 3:25 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Fourteen law enforcement and fire agencies honored their own for everything from potentially saving a busload of children from serious injuries to saving a car crash victim from cardiac arrest on Oct. 30.
During the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Safety Awards Luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, fire and law enforcement departments from Alabaster, Calera, Chelsea, Columbiana, Helena, Pelham and Westover, the North Shelby Fire District and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office honored their top officers and firefighters.
-Lt. Eric Marcus was named the city’s Firefighter of the year for his “exceptional leadership day-in and day-out,” said Alabaster Fire Chief Jim Golden. Marcus has been with the Alabaster Fire Department since 1988, and routinely mentors the department’s younger employees, Golden said.
-Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney named Ricky Knight the department’s Officer of the Year for taking the initiative to work with Pelham officers to help solve several theft and burglary cases in the two cities.
-Calera Fire Chief Sean Kendrick named Shane Stoudenmire the department’s Firefighter of the year for being “one of the best fire instructors in the state of Alabama,” and for leading department recruitment efforts.
-Christopher Blake Atkins and Greg Gremillion were named the Calera Police Department’s Officers of the Year for helping to bust several methamphetamine labs over the past year. Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said Gremillion also helped arrest three copper theft suspects, and said Atkins helped to apprehend a suspect in an armed standoff.
-Charles “Charlie” Boyd was named the Chelsea Firefighter of the Year for “not just coming in and doing what has to be done.”
“He comes in and does more, and that makes us a better department,” said Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley.
-John Denveys was named the Citizens Observer Patrol’s Officer of the Year for calling in information leading to the arrest of a man who allegedly stole a bulldozer and injured himself while jumping off of it. The suspect allegedly had a loaded shotgun and a cooler of beer in an all-terrain vehicle near the scene, said COP Director Bill Robertson.
-Police Chief Lamar Vick named Jeff Bowers the Columbiana Police Officer of the Year for helping to combat drug activity in the city and for helping department investigators solve crimes in the city.
-Matthew Panepento was named the Helena Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year for working to solve challenges in the department, and for growing the department’s Explorer program over the years.
-Jeff Murphy was named the Helena Police Officer of the Year for pulling over a suspected drunk driver at about 7 a.m. on a weekday morning. After pulling the driver over, Murphy allegedly discovered the driver was intoxicated and was on her way to drive a school bus.
“Jeff Murphy saved lives that day,” said Helena police Lt. Brad Flynn.
-Thomas O. Nails was named the Pelham Firefighter of the year for, while off duty, helping to remove a vehicle crash victim from his vehicle and helping to bring the victim out of cardiac arrest before emergency personnel could arrive on the scene.
The victim has since made a full recovery, said Fire Chief Danny Ray.
-Don Bailey was named the Pelham Police Officer of the Year for having a “bulldog tenacious attitude,” said Chief Tommy Thomas.
“I could give him an assignment to do, and it’s going to be done thoroughly and done right,” Thomas said.
-North Shelby Fire Chief Eugene “Buddy” Tyler named Scott Swann the department’s Firefighter of the Year for entering the firefighting service after his house burned down in the 1980s. Since then, Swann has served as the lead technician, instructor and IT manager for the department.
Shelby County Sheriff’s Office
-Sheriff Chris Curry named Clay Hammac the agency’s Deputy of the Year for leading up the county’s Project Lifesaver program. Through the program, deputies work with families of individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s, down syndrome and dementia to ensure their family members could be found should those individuals ever become lost.
-Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin named Tony Kourmoulis the city’s Firefighter of the Year for “leading by example” and helping to ensure the department’s success in its formative years.