Rescue Hose Company honors volunteers

Rescue Hose Company 2011 award recipients include, from left, front row: Torncee Phillippy, Life Member; Tim Keepers, Rookie of the Year; Keith Mowen, Outstanding Service Award; William Little, EMS Officer of the Year; Ashley Alleman, EMT of the Year. Back row: the Seagrave Task Force of Kevin Barnes, Ben Thomas Jr., chair Don Eshleman and Brian Barkdoll. Several members were absent.

The past year was one of successes and challenges for Greencastle Rescue Hose Co. No. 1, and president Cheryl Mowen summed up the highlights at the 35th annual banquet Jan. 21. Entering her second year in office, she told the filled Special Events Center that she made it through 2011 and exceeded her goals with prayer, friends and family, and pride in the organization. She was heartened when one member told her how important her presence was to the operation of the volunteer company.

Over the course of the year, the fundraising Minstrel Show drew a crowd of 1,559, the Relay for Life team raised $3,740 for the American Cancer Society, heat limited attendance at the carnival, and police chief John Phillippy and fire chief Kevin Barnes provided some laughs riding little bicycles at National Night Out. The fire department was busy during the Sept. 9 flooding, a special day for Mowen.

"Who wouldn't want that for a birthday present?"

The community turned out en masse for the Fire Prevention Week open house, and the refurbished 1930 Seagrave pumper made it onto the Heritage Christmas ornament. The crew participated in a memorial service for MSgt. Benjamin Bitner, whom Mowen had met many years earlier when hanging out with other RHC recruits. She recalled his wacky sense of humor and service in the Army. "He was a real life true hero."

The Outstanding Service Award was presented to 1st Lieutenant and life member Keith Mowen. It was his first award from the Rescue Hose Co. "It means a lot to me," he said.

The President's Award went to the Seagrave Task Force, which oversaw the year-long restoration of the historic fire truck. Members included chair Don Eshleman, Ben Thomas Jr., Bill Shatzer, Kerry Jackson, Jeff Williams, Ray Mowen Sr., Brian Barkdoll and Kevin Barnes. Other award recipients were: Ashley Alleman, EMT of the Year; Tim Keepers, Rookie of the Year; William Little, EMS Officer of the Year; and Torncee Phillippy, Life Member, with 32 years of service.

Company chaplains Wayne Warren and Harry Myers conducted a memorial service for members who passed away during the year: Benjamin Bitner, Irvin Bitner, Richard Cooper, Thelma Cordell, Lowell Kiser, William Shew and Richard Statler. Marcie Zimmerman provided special vocal music. Greg Hoover emceed the banquet and Rev. Taylor Camerer offered the invocation and benediction. Department recognitions were presented by Junior advisor Evan Strausner, fire chief Barnes, emergency medical services chief Brian Luger and police chief Phillippy, who donated digital lights to the fire police to increase safety at emergency scenes.

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot