Thanks in no small part to Debbie and Drew Stowe and the WFPD Board, the WFPD Christmas Banquet was a huge hit and was bigger than ever! With most of our firefighters and their families in attendance, a great location, and the perfect atmosphere, this year’s party was a fantastic experience!
The evening began with social time in which the firefighters and their families were able to visit and enjoy talking in a low-stress environment, unlike the rest of the year when fires, accidents, and other events create high-stress environments. During this time, Chief Rob Lane and Assistant Chief Tim Freeman made their rounds, taking a few minutes to speak with each firefighter and their families.
The exceptional staff of the North Levee Restaurant began serving dinner at 7 pm. Pleasant conversation and the trading of “war stories” continued through the completion of dinner and dessert. During dinner, the group was entertained by four singers from the Children’s Joy Foundation who sang a medley of Christmas songs!
After dinner, the focus of the evening began.
Up first were the promotions. Samantha Henley (103) was promoted from Social Media Manager to full Public Information Officer for the district. We had four Junior Firefighters who were promoted to Cadets: Cody Lock, Ariel Givens, Renee Cason, and Morgan Branson. Finally, Cadet Madison Schietzelt was promoted to full Firefighter and was presented with her new number: 132!
Rob was then pleased to present two firefighters with awards for outstanding actions they performed in the line of duty in 2019.
Firefighter Kentton Harris (114) was the firefighter who landed and directed five helicopters for the department on the night of a particularly bad accident in Warsaw. Rob presented him with a homemade plaque which included a windsock, small helicopter, Maltese Cross, and commemorative placard, thanking him for his service. Kentton had this to say about the experience, “We’ve never had such a high number of helicopters in one night. Even though we haven’t trained for something that extraordinary, the Landing Zone training we did receive through the department during one of our training nights helped me prepare for the situation. I was glad to help in any way I could that night.”
Firefighter Ron Goodman (119) was the firefighter whose actions directly led to saving the life of a four-year-old girl from a car accident earlier this year. Rob presented him with the department’s new Lifesaving Award! Ron later expressed his honor in receiving the award and wished the little girl and her family well, saying he hoped she was recovering and wondering at her condition.
Rob was then proud to present Assistant Chief Tim Freeman (129) with a Maltese Cross plaque for Tim’s outstanding service to the WFPD over the past year. Rob expressed his appreciation for all of Tim’s efforts and that Rob and the department couldn’t do it without Tim! Rob’s heartfelt speech brought cheers from all of the firefighters and families gathered!
Newly promoted Cadet Firefighter Renee Cason presented Rob with a scrapbook containing photos from training nights, events, and more from the past year or so. Rob was surprised and overwhelmed by such a thoughtful gift!
Next, Rob and Tim, with the help of “Super Dave” (142), presented all of the firefighters, cadets, and junior firefighters with checks and WFPD tumblers containing the emblem of the department on one side and each firefighter’s number on the back. Super Dave’s commentary while delivering the checks was humorous and entertaining!
Three of the tumblers also had special additions. PIO Sam Henley (103) had her amateur radio call sign KE0LMY on hers, newly promoted Cadet Renee Cason had her amateur radio call sign KE0LMZ on hers, and Junior Firefighter Alex Cason had his amateur radio call sign KE0YGT on his. All were excited and pleased to have this additional honor bestowed, as it is an effort to become registered with the Federal Communications Commission to obtain an amateur radio license. For further information on amateur radio operations in Benton County, please visit the Benton County, MO Amateur Radio Emergency Service website!
After that, amidst cheers and applause, Board Members Fred Toomey and Leo Porter presented Rob and Tim with awards which were made from retired fire hoses and Maltese Cross plaques, commenting on their outstanding service to the Warsaw Fire Protection District.
Finally, Debbie Stowe addressed the families of the firefighters. She expressed her joy that this year’s party was the largest in all of the years she has been hosting the department’s Christmas Banquet. She then gave a deeply heartfelt thank you to the families for their support and patience which comes with being part of the WFPD’s volunteer fire department family. Whether the firefighters are called in the middle of dinner or the middle of the night, they always respond. It takes a toll on the families, but they stay strong and true, understanding the important and, in some cases, lifesaving roles these men and women fill. Debbie spent all year buying a variety of gifts for the families to choose from as a small token of thanks to these amazing people who are the backbone of our department. We thank her for the thoughtfulness she gives to our families!
As a final note, the department would like to thank Donna Cason, who will be engraving our firefighters’ numbers on their badges. The badges were gathered at the end of the evening to be engraved and they will be distributed upon completion.
Overall, the evening was a huge hit! We were reminded again that if it weren’t for the tremendous efforts of these volunteers and their families, we couldn’t bring the level of response and protection to the Warsaw Fire Protection District which we currently provide. Thank you to our firefighters, who continually make the effort to train and improve their knowledge and skills to be the best they can be!