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2023 Volunteer Appreciation BBQ

It was a beautiful day at Moonshine Lake Provincial Park last Thursday, August 24, for the annual Saddle Hills County Volunteer Appreciation BBQ. Volunteers, their family and supporters, and members of the community came out to share in a delicious steak supper, provided by Alberts Catering, and hear of the accomplishments and kind words said about this years nominated volunteers.

Door prizes were generously donated by the Central Peace Natural Gas Co-op and TC Energy, alongside a prize put together by the County. Representatives from TC Energy were in attendance at the event and Council thanked them and other industry and businesses in the area for their continued support and investment in our community. Winners of the Door Prizes were announced at the closure of the event, including Garry Wurm, Bruce Thomi, and Gardell Bauman.

Each year, the County reaches out to the community to nominate exceptional individual volunteers to receive awards and recognition at this annual event. This year five volunteers were recognized, Carla Day, Andy Gregg, Diana Lowther, Donna Nelson, and Bev Roy. Carla, Andy, Diana, and Bev were in attendance and each received their certificate of recognition and gift basket from Reeve Alvin Hubert and members of Council. Donna was unfortunately unable to attend as she is currently on vacation with her family, but will receive her award upon her return.

Below outlines a little bit about each of the volunteers, in the words of their nominator:

Nominated by: Sharon Potratz

Carla Day

‘Carla goes above and beyond to organize our club. She travels endless miles and spends her own time doing everything necessary. Way to go Carla, we appreciate you. She inspires us with her faithful hours of work and generous giving of her time. Carla is so special. She keeps us informed and her organizational skills are amazing.’

Nominated by: Ian Gregg

Andy Gregg

‘Andy is Deputy Fire Chief of the Savanna Fire Department at 74 years old, and was on the front lines of the fire north of Fourth Creek this May. He worked tirelessly for days on end to help manage the fire. Even when he finally had a day off, when additional resources arrived, he still went to the fire hall to clean the fire truck so that people could see through the windshield. He also helped build the gazebos at the new Savanna Splash Park.

He inspires others by helping to prevent properties from burning and leading by example. He responds to calls at all hours of the day and night and he is always imparting his skills and knowledge. Many in the community look up to him.

Despite being 74 he is still actively fighting fires with people half his age and is patient when teaching others his skills. He always puts the community first and he is always willing to help’

Nominated by: Carrie Yanishewski

Diana Lowther & Donna Nelson (absent)

‘I get my mail from the box at the Fourth Creek Hall every weekday and one of these two women is always working there. 80% of the time they are quilting hospital and donation quilts, or helping others with their quilts, using the other 20% to do their own quilting! Diana and Donna give their time to people from near and far whenever they need help to complete a sewing project. They are always teaching, commiserating, and creating with the women they help, keeping the community spirit in Fourth Creek alive. They are the reason Volunteer Appreciation Awards are created.

Although, not a quilter myself, I love to see what they’re up to. The people who love to sew are inspired by the talent of these two women to create beautiful projects that they all aspire to match.

Donna and Diana have expertise in putting together quilting masterpieces, including choosing colours, helping with difficult patterns, and providing guidance using the long arm quilting machine to finish quilts with intricate patterns. They take online courses to stay up to date with the machine and its technology and can service the machine themselves. They are amazing!’

Nominated by: Sharon Potratz

Bev Roy

‘Bev makes a lasting impact on our community by being a faithful worker and always willing to provide support to our community. She is always there to help whenever she is needed, seeing what needs doing and making sure it is done, a lot of the time by herself. She often mows the lawns and takes care of our cemetery.’

Alongside the nominated community volunteers the volunteer event sees the County recognize the contributions of our volunteer fire fighters and medical first responders who have served upwards of five years in the community. Dustin Goodheart and Andy Gregg were both in attendance to receive their awards. Dustin celebrates five years with the Bonanza Volunteer Fire Department while Andy received his Alberta Emergency Services Medal (AESM) recognizing 32 years in service at the Savanna Volunteer Fire Department.

Many nominations and requests were received from the public this year to recognize the service of our volunteer firefighters, in light of the recent wildfires experienced. As Reeve Hubert said in his remarks to those in attendance, 'I think I speak on behalf of all when I say that we are incredibly grateful for their hard-work and continued contributions and without the efforts of both our dedicated first responders and the members of the community that came together to spend long hours fighting these fires, feeding and housing firefighters and evacuees, and providing endless community support, we would not have had the success that we did. Their dedication to their community is greatly appreciated and should be applauded. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their service.'

The most notable fire in the County this year was the Cecil Fire (GWF-018), located north of Fourth Creek, beginning in early May. Volunteers committed many hours to fighting this fire and Savanna Volunteer Fire Department logged a total of 873 recorded hours by firefighters and first responders, while recorded hours within the community totaled 386 hours. Blueberry Volunteer Fire Department recorded an additional 37 hours alongside Bonanza Volunteer Fire Department's 30.5 hours. This brings the total recorded hours by community volunteers on the Cecil Fire to 1,326.5 hours, demonstrating the staggering commitment our volunteers make to our community, especially in times of need.

The Silverwood Fire, managed by the Central Peace Fire and Rescue Commission, saw Woking and Happy Valley Volunteer Fire Departments contribute a total of 96 and 66 recorded hours respectively, bringing the total recorded hours by Saddle Hills County volunteers on this fire to 162 hours. From October 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023, volunteer firefighters and medical first responders contributed a total of 3,640.5 hours and drove a combined total of 18,674 km to carry out their duties.

See below for a list of all volunteer firefighters and medical first responders who have reached milestone achievements this year:

5 Year Service Awards:

Dustin Coons (Bonanza VFD), Dustin Goodheart (Bonanza VFD), Krista Enns (MFR), Alicia Jones (MFR), Andrew Rak (MFR), Tony Sadlier (MFR), Jordan Toews (MFR), Vincent Toews (MFR)

10 Year Service Awards:

Brad Morrison (Blueberry VFD), Greg Bolch (Blueberry VFD), Daniel Fitzsimmons (Blueberry VFD)

15 Year Service Awards:

Micheal Mitchell (Blueberry VFD), Blaine Rogers (Bonanza VFD), Cody Dolen (Savanna VFD)

20 Year Service Awards:

Justin Rudy (Bonanza VFD), Kevin Miller (Bonanza VFD)

25 Year Service Awards:

Chris Hehr (Savanna VFD)

30 Year Service Awards:

Kenneth Dolen (Savanna VFD)

Alberta Emergency Services Medal (AESM):

12 Years: Patrick Thiessen (Savanna VFD), Mike Armagost (Savanna VFD), Blaine Rogers (Bonanza VFD)
22 Years: Kevin Miller (Bonanza VFD)
32 Years: Andrew Gregg (Savanna VFD)

Fire Service Exemplary Service Medal (FSESM):

Justin Miller, (Bonanza VFD), Kevin Miller (Bonanza VFD)

CVFSA Municipal Long Service Award:

Kenneth Dolen (Savanna VFD)

Recipients not in attendance will receive their awards at the annual Christmas Event held at each of the five volunteer fire departments.

We would like to thank each and every person that nominated, attended, or participated in the event in any way, and we look forward to the many future events recognizing the amazing people of Saddle Hills County.

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