ILWACO — They serve. They protect.
But they go beyond the call of duty on a daily basis.
And for the 11 people who were guests of honor at a banquet in Ilwaco Wednesday, it was a chance for the community to say a big thank you.
The Don R. Grable American Legion Post 48 in Ilwaco held its 31st annual Derald D. Robertson Safety Awards night last week at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.
And the 110 people attending offered applause for those honored. Ron Robbins, post commander, said their dedication reflected credit on themselves and their departments. “You are our heroes and mere words cannot express our gratitude for your service,” he said.
Jacob Brundage, chief of Pacific County Fire District 1 in Ocean Park, selected Kevin Rowse as the agency’s Firefighter of the Year. Because he was away, the award was accepted on his behalf by Lani Karvia, public education coordinator.
Rowse joined the department in 2016, has sought out training opportunities and taught colleagues. He has responded on numerous calls, including care accidents, house fires, wildfires and emergency medical calls. “He has proven repeatedly to both volunteer and paid staff that he is reliable during these times of crisis,” wrote the chief.
Rowse also represents the department at community events, offering education and on-site emergency response. He also teaches the public the proper techniques to use fire extinguishers and assists at schools during Fire Prevention Week.
Long Beach Fire Department nominated Matt Miller as its Firefighter of the Year. In submitting his name, Chief Matt Bonney said Miller’s humility often caused him to be overlooked. “He is not an attention seeker, glory hound or trophy chaser,” the chief wrote. “He is a man with a sense of community and family that should be present in all people.”
Chief Tom Williams named two personnel from Ilwaco Fire Department to be recognized. Eli F. Sheaffer, and Tyler J. Reynolds were jointly named Firefighters of the Year.
Sheaffer joined the department this year and immediately dedicated himself to attending training, the chief said. After about 200 hours of study, he completed course requirements on topics from hazardous materials to fire fighting fundamentals. “His dedication and commitment have been outstanding,” Williams said.
Reynolds was recruited to the department by his neighbor and within a short time had attended two fires, one in which a house owner died. He immediately signed up for more advanced training. “His dedication to learn new firefighting techniques was not easy, but he persevered,” wrote the chief. “Our department is proud of his accomplishments.”
South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team honored Ericka Hazen as Rescue Specialist of the Year.
Doug Knutzen, president of the team, commended Hazen, who is a surgical nurse at Ocean Beach Hospital. “Her medical training and triage ability are real assets that have saved many lives,” he said. “She works in fast-paced emergency environments and is very capable of making good decisions.”
Hazen joined the rescue team in 2003 and has attended drills, taken classes and participated in rescues.
“Working under some extremely hazardous and stressful conditions, Erika has displayed courage, intelligence and commonsense in handling victims, family members ands the public while maintaining a safe and secure rescue scene,” Knutzen said. “Her perseverance, leadership and dedication are a crucial part of our team.”
Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson nominated Terri Karnas, the Pacific County Jail food services manager, as the PCSO’s Employee of the Year. In his nomination letter, he noted that she is a 26-veteran employee who has rarely missed any days of work.
She and her staff have prepared more than 40,000 meals a year at the jail. “Terri has demonstrated a high level of professionalism and plays a very important role within the daily process of inmate care and nutritional health standards,” he wrote. “Terri’s positive presence is not only recognized by her co-workers, but also by the inmates that she happily feeds.”
The Naselle Detachment of the Washington State Patrol, which covers Pacific and Wahkiakum counties, has named Trooper Michael S. Canham as its Trooper of the Year. In making the award, Sgt. Bradford A. Moon noted that Canham arrived at Naselle as a new trooper in April 2017 and has already made his mark, displaying excellent skills, taking on responsibility and becoming a skilled investigator.
During his time in Naselle, Canham has arrested 13 impaired drivers, stopped 2,400 traffic violators and investigated 50 collisions. Additionally, he commended Canham for his 20 years serving in the U.S. military, which included eight years of active duty. He is a staff sergeant with the Oregon Army National Guard D Co. 741 Brigade Engineer Battalion, an announcement that brought additional applause from those attending.
Chief Flint Wright of Long Beach Police Department named Tim Mortenson as the department’s Police Officer of the Year. Mortenson has served with LBPD since 1999, making him the longest-serving person on the department.
“Officer Mortenson has seen it all, heard it all and experienced it all, and yet he has maintained his sense of humor and has continued to develop a great attitude through the years,” wrote the chief.
“He treats people with the utmost respect and shows a patience that is truly remarkable. Tim handles difficult people better than just about anyone I have ever worked with and his sense of humor helps keep everyone in a good mood.”
From U.S. Coast Guard Cape Disappointment, Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Ault was named Enlisted Person of the Year. As well as a boarding officer and motor lifeboat crew member, Ault works to train others.
In nominating him for recognition, Chief Petty Officer Conor Bennett from Cape D, noted Ault surpasses expectations, helping colleagues with safe physical fitness routines and healthy dietary habits through individual coaching. “Petty Officer Ault exemplifies a superior example in military bearing and physical fitness but, sometimes more vital to mission success, consistently displays a positive attitude which effectively contributes to the moral of the station.”
Bennett also recounted a short-notice mission that Ault led, working over the course of eight hours with other law enforcement agencies to board, inspect and detain a commercial fishing vessel that was failing to comply with regulations.
Lt. Jessica Shafer, commanding officer at Cape D, was among those on hand to applaud her colleague’s achievements.
Coast Guard Sector Columbia River’s Enlisted Person of the Year is Damage Controlman 2nd Class Matthew Thompson. Command Master Chief Karl Keyes said Thompson goes well beyond his primary duties working in the Sector’s facilities department.
He noted Thompson has restructured the aircraft rescue fire protection program, provided firefighter training to new watch standers and identified gaps in equipment needs, all the while undertaking to be trained as an emergency medical technician. He also volunteers to be a color guard member at official events, including retirements and funerals.
Dennis Forest, commander of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 06-02, named Sally Kiess as the Auxiliarist of the Year. In his letter of recommendation, Forest noted that as information services officer, Kiess is busy and efficient, especially with thorough reports, but she goes well beyond the duties assigned. He said she also helps teach boating safety classes, assists with the Black Lake Fishing Derby, is a tour escort during Rose Festival week and performs ramp duty during the Buoy 10 fishing season.
“Sally always finds time and energy to step up an volunteer for other assignments as they appear on our schedule,” Forest said.
Guests included Gary Roach, commander of the American Legion for the Department of Washington, who presented each of the honorees with a plaque. He commended the Legion for hosting the banquet to boost its visibility and commended all who serve and protect. Several other regional Legion leaders from around Washington attended.
State Sen. Dean Takko, Pacific County Commissioner Lisa Olsen, David Hodges, representing U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, and Cory Doane, representing U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, each presented the honorees with letters of thanks from their respective organizations.
The Ilwaco Jazz Band provided music and its members were treated to dinner by the Legion and Auxiliary.
• Small World Department: The Ilwaco Legion post is named for Don R. Grable, who served in World War I and is buried in the Ilwaco Cemetery. He was the brother of Dean Takko’s grandfather, John Grable.
‘You are our heroes and mere words cannot express our gratitude for your service.’
— Ron Robbins
American Legion Post No. 48 commander