The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5731 and Auxiliary presented many awards Wednesday night at Memorial Hall many of them to first responders.
The first award of the evening was presented to Jack Winters of Troop 24 who was honored with Eagle Scout of the Year honors.
Named as the Member of the Year for the VFW by Master of Ceremonies Quartermaster Ron Scheyer, Vere Gardner was recognized as a member always willing to go the extra mile, which is remarkable since he is 95 years old. The Pearl Harbor Survivor was not in attendance to receive his award.
Another big supporter of the VFW as a member himself, Col. Otto Behunin received the title of Senior Citizen of The Year for his involvement in not only Post 5731 but also the Military Court of Honor at the Gridley-Biggs Cemetery of which he has served on the Memorial Day planning committee since the Court of Honor went in.
VFW member Jeanette Hayhurst was honored for her support of VFW activities and her involvement in the Pearl Harbor ceremony.
As Junior Citizen of the Year, Melanie Burnett was honored for her heroic help at just 16 years of age when she came upon an accident with an elderly woman and her seven-year-old grandchild trapped in a vehicle on it's side and had the presence of mind to not only stop and check on the two but to cut the seven-year-old out of the seatbelt as the two hung upside down. Burnett had been taking an EMS class at Paradise High School and used this knowledge in helping these two people.
Named as Business of the Year once again was Mac's Hardware and Rental for their constant support of the VFW.
VFW members Aaron Burks and Lou Krasovic were thanked for their service as trustees by Quartermaster Scheyer who expressed his appreciation and presented 10 years pins. Scheyer received a 30 year pin.
Gridley-Biggs Police Lt. Scott Smallwood thanked the VFW for the awards night which means a lot to his department and presented the Dispatcher of The Year to Ruth Hennessy who has worked for the department since 1987. He noted that when he was hired Hennessy was not only a Dispatcher but she was also the Animal Control Officer and Evidence Technician and she continues to keep up this pace.
"Her dependability is very much appreciated. If we call her for a grave shift on a Saturday night to fill in she comes in with a smile on her face. She makes the Chief's job, my job and Sgt. Hameed Khan's job easier," he stated.
This 30 year resident of Gridley has three adult children with son David serving in the Army and started working in the Animal Shelter in 1987 until 2000 when she took a break an came back in 2003.
"She works dispatch, evidence, Animal Control and anything else we ask," he stated.
Officer of The Year honors were bestowed on Gridley-Biggs Detective Alberto Rodriguez was introduced by Lt. Smallwood who stated he has compassion and cares for others to the point when anyone mentions they received a ticket from him they say they have no complaint, stating he was nice. It was Detective Rodriguez who was in charge of the Aly Yeoman case last spring and still did his FTO training while conducting the investigation.
VFW Auxiliary President Lynne Spencer took the microphone to give out the Auxiliary awards which included member Joan Clarke for her patriotism instruction and weekly involvement with the Thursday night bingo in the hall. Past District President Sherry Moorhouse was also recognized along with Ray Valverde who does so much for the VFW behind the scenes.
Spencer introduced the Cade Boeger family who appeared in the news during the Cascade fire when the very caring firemen took their American flag down on October 10, 2017 and folded it placing it on their couch while the family was evacuated and firemen were able to save their home. The family was stunned to find the flag had not burned and was saved from the burning embers surrounding their home as the firemen saved it. Sadly, the family lost their home later on but the fireman who climbed up to save the flag, Jason Romero, was presented with a plaque by Boeger who stated his appreciation for his kindness.
"The firemen saved not only our home but my Dad's home and to come home to find the American flag was amazing. I am pleased to be part of this presentation for the firemen's patriotism shown," Boeger stated.
Two media awards were presented, first to Publisher Lisa Van De Hey of The Gridley Herald and to A.J. Abell of Action News for their support of the VFW and Auxiliary.
EMT of The Year honors went to Chris Frazer and the title of the Fireman of The Year went to Roque Zarate of Station 74 who sadly will be leaving this area as he was promoted to Captain and will work in the foothills and have new challenges.
Spencer, as President of the Chamber of Commerce, presented a plaque of appreciation to Volunteer Chief Roger Blancett for his continuous support of the Chamber and Blancett then presented the Volunteer Fireman of The Year for the second year in a row to Kyle Duran.
The final presentation of the year to Butte County Sheriff's Sgt. Jason Piazza was presented the Sheriff of The Year Award by Lt. Steve Boyd recognizing his 22 years of service to Butte County starting out in the jail now serving as a Sergeant on the patrol team for South County. Sgt. Piazza's team was also in attendance and the Sgt. gave credit to them for all the fine things that he sees them accomplish each and every day. Sgt. Piazza also noted the great example he had from his father-in-law the late Jack Storne, Sr.,who was the Gridley-Biggs Police Chief from 1992 to 2005 when he retired.