Heroes honored at annual GSCCC Safety Awards Luncheon

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2018

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham Civic Complex was filled with plenty of local heroes the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 26, as several firefighters and police officers from each municipality in Shelby County were awarded by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce at the 2018 Safety Awards Luncheon.

In all, 17 first responders including seven firefighters and 10 police officers from Alabaster, Calera, Chelsea, Columbiana, Helena, Hoover, Montevallo, Pelham, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Montevallo were honored at the luncheon.

Fire chiefs and police chiefs from every department shared stories that included single acts of bravery by the award recipients or nominated individuals who have represented their department and community positively through a number of instances.

Before the awards were announced, Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes expressed his gratitude to first responders after suffering a personal health scare on Sunday, Sept. 23.

“I want to express my personal thanks because for those of you who don’t know I had a heart attack on Sunday,” Hayes said. “It was a major heart attack and fortunately Hoover responded very quickly and the Hoover firefighters were fantastic. My brother was beside me and started administering CPR immediately and that’s why I’m here today. I had to be here to thank all the public safety guys because we think about you all the time. I just wanted to be here to thank all you guys and I’m appreciative of everything you do.”

Alabaster Fire Chief Tim Love presented the Firefighter of the Year award to Brian Thrasher citing an act of heroism shown this summer when Thrasher was on vacation.

“Back in July, while Thrasher was vacationing with his family in Florida he had the opportunity to step up and show what a member of the Alabaster Fire Department is all about,” Love said. “He witnessed a civilian in trouble in the water and jumped into action. They pulled him from the water and performed CPR and stayed with the patient and continued resuscitative efforts until EMS crews arrived. He made a valiant attempt to save the victim’s life and this is exactly what we expect of our personnel.”

Calera Fire Chief Sean Kendrick presented the Firefighter of the Year award to Ryan Blackmon.

“Ryan comes from a long history where his family is committed to public service,” Kendrick said. “He is multitalented and an exemplary employee who takes his job very seriously but in his mind, he’s just doing his job.”

Helena Fire Chief Pete Valenti presented the Firefighter of the Year award to Lt. Chris Miller citing his mechanical abilities and dedication to the job day in and day out.

“Mechanically, he can do just about anything which is one of the reasons he’s been selected,” Valenti said. “We have an older ATV model that he repairs all the time. It’s not a small task but not only does he do that, he also fixes fire engines and is the first one to jump on something and fix it.”

As for some of the law enforcement awards, Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney presented the Police Officer of the Year award to Andrew Rowan for his quick actions when responding to a call on July 3.

“On July 3 of this year, Andrew was answering a call along with some other officers and he was the first on the scene,” Rigney said. “Andrew arrived, and found a female who had had a severe laceration to her left arm and almost bled out. Andrew tried to apply pressure to that wound and was unsuccessful. He knew it was a critical time and he had to do something to save her life and with his quick thinking, he put on a tourniquet to stop her bleeding and his quick thinking saved her life. She’s alive today thanks to his efforts that night.”

Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar presented KC Handley with the Police Officer of the Year award for his hard work while patrolling the midnight shift.

“KC has made an immediate impact even after just two years,” Folmar said. “He consistently leads the department in arrests and gets out and works midnight shift. He has made arrests this past year of several groups of people who were doing car burglaries in Helena that led to cases not only in Helena but in neighboring cities.”

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer presented the Officer of the Year award to officer David Tkacik for his nearly three decades of work in law enforcement.

“David has been with our department for 29 years and wasn’t picked for a single incident but it’s something he does day in and day out,” Palmer said. “He is our code enforcement officer and that’s a tough job. That’s going to someone’s door and knocking on their door to tell a grown man to cut his grass. It’s so important for that job to be done and critical in keeping our city safe, clean and presentable to our citizens and visitors to our city.”

Other Firefighters of the Year were Chelsea’s Adam Knight, Columbiana’s Richard Sutton, Hoover’s Ryan Poe and Pelham’s Ken Mays.

Other Officers of the Year were Calera’s Fredrick Yerenko, Columbiana’s Ken Peavy, Hoover’s Lakenderick Edwards, Montevallo’s Peter Reese, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies Matt Glassford and Stu Hartley the University of Montevallo’s Jillian Sanders.

The presenting sponsor of the Safety Awards Luncheon was Alabama Power as AT&T, Bryant Bank and Turner Promotions served as co-sponsors.

To view or purchase photos, visit Shelbycountyphotos.com/By-Schoolcity/Chamber-of-Commerce.