Washington County Public Service Awards bestowed
BEVERLY — Eight first responders recognized Wednesday with the 39th annual Washington County Public Service Awards agreed they couldn’t have succeeded on their own.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Marietta Police Detective Derek Tewanger said after receiving his department’s award during a Muskingum Valley Beverly-Waterford Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Marietta Police Capt. Ryan Huffman said multiple co-workers nominated Tewanger, who joined the department in 2019, for the honor, citing his attention to detail and ability to pick up training quickly.
“Most importantly, they key on his honesty and the way he cares for the public,” Huffman said.
The awards are given out annually at a chamber luncheon, held at the Beverly-Waterford Rescue Squad/Township Building in Beverly.
Reno Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief/Chaplain Ted Patterson received the award from the Washington County Volunteer Firefighter Association. James Seevers, president of the Washington County Mutual Fire Protection Association, noted that while many departments struggle with manpower, Patterson has served Reno for 47 years.
Patterson credited God and his family with his success and longevity.
“Without our families, we couldn’t do this,” he said. “I’ve left a lot of good meals.”
Patterson asked those in attendance to join him in a moment of silence honoring Dan Ritchey, the longtime Reno fire chief who passed away last year due to complications from COVID-19.
Marietta Firefighter/Paramedic Jared Ross said he appreciated the award for his department but didn’t feel the recognition was necessary.
“I think that everyone in our line of work gets into it because it’s a selfless career,” he said.
Ross’ fellow Marietta firefighter, Lt. Josh Chevalier, was recognized by the Washington County Emergency Medical Service Association.
“He’s been instrumental in the fight against COVID, and it was bad,” said Fred Hupp, the association’s president.
Chevalier, who is also a captain with the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department, spent hours researching how to properly clean personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic, when masks and other items were hard to come by, Hupp said. That resulted in the Marietta Fire Department establishing a decontamination facility with the help of the Memorial Health System.
“We got through without running out of PPE,” Chevalier said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office award went to Detective Sgt. Scott Smeeks. Chief Deputy Mark Warden praised Smeeks for his determination in never giving up on a case.
“If something would ever happen to myself or my family member … I would want this individual to investigate for my family,” Warden said.
“We’re not successful without the people we work with,” Smeeks said. “We’re blessed to work in a community where people still respect our first responders.”
Belpre’s honoree was Police Chief Terry Williams, who joined the department as a dispatcher in 1995 and became an officer in 1998. Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said Williams has increased training for the department, established an impound yard and “still remains one of the most active people during the day.”
Williams said Smeeks was a mentor for him when he worked in Belpre and added that he was proud of Tewanger, who started his law enforcement career in Belpre.
Beverly Mayor Jim Ullman recognized police Sgt. Brad Oliver, who could not be in attendance because he was helping with traffic for a funeral.
“He has never ceased to amaze us in a lot of the things he does,” Ullman said, recalling how Oliver saved a young child from a fire a few years ago.
Ullman also presented an award to the Beverly Volunteer Fire Department’s Tim Rossiter, who recently retired after 45 years. Rossiter said he appreciated the honor but joked he would have words with the mayor for surprising him with it at the luncheon.
Evan Bevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.