BEVERLY-Six area public servants humbly accepted accolades from their departments and community Wednesday at the 31st annual Public Service Awards in Beverly.
Previously sponsored by the Marietta Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the longstanding tradition of honoring local police, fire, and emergency responders was continued this year by the Muskingum Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Sons of the American Revolution.
Rick Walters, who serves as both president of the insurance association and chairman of the chamber of commerce, said he brought the idea to the chamber when it became clear that declining membership in the association necessitated a new sponsor.
"They thought it was a great idea," he said.
The Sons of the American Revolution, which gives out similar awards nationally, also asked to get involved, said Jean Yost, the group's Marietta chapter president.
Awards are given to individuals from the Marietta Police Department, Marietta Fire Department, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Washington County Firefighters Association and Washington County Emergency Medical Services, and recipients are chosen by their respective organization.
Public Service Awards
Marietta Police Department: Dispatcher Toni Roach.
Marietta Fire Department: Firefighters and dive team members Eric Moore and Matt Hively.
Washington County Sheriff's Office: Detective Bryan Lockhart, Major Crimes Task Force.
Washington County Firefighters Association: Mark Wiehl, Warren Volunteer Fire Department Chief.
Washington County Emergency Medical Services: Karen Lockhart, volunteer EMT for Beverly-Waterford Rescue Squad.
Dispatcher Toni Roach received this year's MPD Public Service Award from Police Chief Brett McKitrick.
On the night shift, Roach is the sole director of the city's police force, he said.
"She's a heck of a dispatcher. Basically she runs the entire city by herself," said McKitrick.
Roach particularly stood out on the night of Dec. 12 when a call about a possibly suicidal man turned into shots fired at officers. As the city's sole dispatcher, Roach quickly sprang into action, contacting additional police, other law enforcement agencies, squads, and more, all while keeping up with the rest of the city's incoming 911 calls, said McKitrick.
The man shooting at police was eventually subdued, and no one was injured, he said.
"A lot of that credit goes to the person that held it all together," he said of Roach.
Roach, 52, was she was surprised and honored to learn she was receiving the award. The night of the shooting incident was hectic, and Roach said she is glad those nights are few and far between.
"I'm so glad we live somewhere where that isn't routine," she said.
Two firefighters who dragged a man from a car in the Muskingum River in June were dual recipients of the Marietta Fire Department Public Service Award.
Matt Hively and Eric Moore responded to a car that was already fully submerged.
"They went into the water, were able to retrieve the individual from the water, and were able to start performing life saving techniques," said Fire Chief C.W. Durham.
Though the man succumbed to his injuries the next day, it was Hively and Moore's efforts that gave him the best possible opportunity to survive.
Hively and Moore were quick to note that they were not the only ones on scene that day.
Moore, 35, thanked the rest of the men on his shift for their constant bravery.
"These jobs are never done by ourselves. We have a big support team," added Hively.
Hively, 39, added that he loves his job and is proud that his son Jacob is now following in his footsteps as a firefighter with the U.S. Air Force.
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks presented his office's Public Service Award to Detective Bryan Lockhart, a task force agent that he said easily transitions from one tough job to the next.
While Lockhart often deals with narcotics cases, he was twice called on in the past year to investigate sensitive child sex abuse cases, said Mincks.
"He has the ability to switch from narcotics to sexual abuse. He's an all around officer," said Mincks.
One of the two sexual abuse cases, which involves a girl who was abused from ages 9 to 12, should be going to trial soon, said Lockhart, 33, who has been with the sheriff's office for seven years.
Before that he spent five years with the Parkersburg Police Department, he said.
Washington County Firefighters Association
Warren Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Wiehl received this year's award from Grant Wallace of the Washington County Firefighters Association.
Wallace said Wiehl has worn many hats in the world of firefighting, including that of role model.
"He's been a good mentor for me," said Wallace.
Wiehl also serves as Chief of the Solvay Fire Brigade and is involved in firefighter training courses through Washington State Community College, added Wallace.
Wiehl said he was very honored to receive the award.
"There are a lot of people out there who deserve it," he said.
Washington County Emergency Medical Services
Beverly-Waterford Rescue Squad volunteer Karen Lockhart was the only recipient not present to accept her award.
"This recipient is doing what she does to win this award. She just left on a squad run," said Walters.
Before joining Beverly-Waterford as a volunteer EMT, Lockhart, 70, spent 17 years as a dispatcher in Beverly. The call center closed in 2004, she said.
"I thought 'What am I going to do with my 40 hours a week I'm not working?'" said Lockhart after the awards ceremony Wednesday.
She signed up for an EMT class and has been volunteering for the department since 2006.
Lockhart said she was shocked to win the award, but that it was much appreciated.