EMA Director Allan Green served as the master of ceremonies for the event. The recognition began with a meal catered by Old Clinton Barbecue, and the program began with the reading of a thank-you letter from the Georgia Forestry Commission by the chief ranger of the Jones-Jasper Unit, Howell Crutchfield.
The letter was written by the commission’s interim director, Robert Farris, in reference to the assistance by Jones County firefighters to the effort of fighting the 2007 wildfires. More than 462,000 acres were destroyed in the 21-county area, and the fires resulted in the loss of $65 million in timber and homes.
“The damage could indeed have been worse were it not for the cooperative efforts of many firefighting organizations and volunteers,” Farris said.
More than 3,300 firefighters helped to fight the wildfires, and an excess of 400 of those came from Georgia’s fire services.
“It was nothing less than remarkable. Each of you sacrificed time away from your regular jobs, home, and family to help the citizens of Georgia,” he added.
John Wood, John Shipley, Stephen Hoyt, Heather Henderson, Terry Berrier, William Wright, and Green received certificates and commemorative pins from the commission.
“It was quite an experience seeing that many firefighters working together,” Green commented.
Green also presented a proclamation from the Georgia General Assembly to Gray Fire Chief Ronnie Malcolm in recognition of the contribution of the department to a life-saving effort.
The proclamation was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and cited the departments’ award of the Georgia State Firefighter’s Association Outstanding Life Saving Valor award for a rescue that occurred at Gray Gardens Apartments.
The proclamation was dated Jan. 31, and each department received a copy.
“Recipients of the Valor Award best exemplify the duties and dedication of firefighting professionals. Bravery and gallant actions earned the City of Gray and Jones County Fire Department this distinct honor,” the proclamation states.
Volunteer of the Year Awards were presented by Jones County Board of Commission Chairman Preston Hawkins, and the meeting was adjourned following the traditional playing of ‘God Bless the USA’.