3/6/2018 8:55:00 AM Covington Fire Department Holds Banquet
The Covington Fire Department presented its Fred C. Jesser Memorial Award during the 116th annual banquet and meeting held Saturday night in Wolfe Hall at the main fire station on Hawthorne Street. Pictured, Fire Department President C.J. Entsminger, second from left, presents the award to Richard Baker, far right. Looking on are Chief Kevin Pettitt, far left, and past Jesser Award winner Harrison Scott, second from right. The Jesser Award recognizes long-term contributions to the Covington Fire Department. (Gavin Dressler Photo)
The late G.C. Fawley was honored Saturday evening during a memorial service held as part of the Covington Fire Department’s 116th annual banquet and meeting. Fawley joined the department Feb. 12, 1952, and retired from the department on Sept. 14, 2017. Fawley died Dec. 6 at the age of 91. The department also remembered honorary member Jerry Blankenship, who passed away Aug. 12, 2017. (Gavin Dressler Photo)
The Covington Fire Department installed officers and honored many of its members Saturday evening during the 116th annual meeting and banquet.
The event was held in Wolfe Hall at the main fire station on Hawthorne Street.
After a welcome by President C.J. Entsminger, a memorial service was held to remember fire department members who passed away over the last year. Chaplain Tim Yancey lit a candle in memory of long-time member G.C. Fawley, who retired from the department in September and died in December. Honorary member Jerry Blankenship, who died in August, was also remembered.
Yancey was also featured on the cover of this year’s banquet program. “Over the past three years that I’ve been able to do this, I’ve tried to put people on the cover of the program that hold a special place with the department,” said Greg Burton, who served as chairman of the banquet committee and emcee for the evening.
Yancey, who joined the Covington Fire Department May 24, 1991, is a 27-year veteran of the department. Over the last several years, Yancey has taken on an additional role in the department, serving as chaplain.
A brief biography on the inside cover of the program said “‘Mr. Yancey’ gives the members the faithful leadership they need to continue protecting our area and citizens.”
“Timmy, thank you for everything you do and for all your faithful leadership in the department,” said Burton.
Following the dinner, Burton recognized special guests in attendance, including several retired members and honorary members. Among those were honorary “chief” Ricky Fridley. “Ricky, you’re the best supporter the fire department’s got. Thank you for coming tonight,” said Burton.
The guest list also included Jimmy Byer, president of the Virginia State Firefighters Association. “It’s nice to have somebody in that position in your ... area, and hopefully get things done that we need to,” said Burton. “Thank you for serving that, Jimmy.”
Other local fire departments were also represented Saturday night. The Boiling Spring Fire Department was represented by Chief Stacy Byer, who is also Jimmy Byer’s son; while the Selma Fire Department was represented by Britt Mays and his daughter, Rebecca.
Also in attendance were Sgt. Kyle Moore and Trooper Ben Hobbs of the Virginia State Police. “We’re out on the interstate a lot,” said Burton. “You guys [have] got our backs. We appreciate everything that you do for us.”
Covington City Council was represented by Mayor Tom Sibold and council members Allan Tucker and Mary Ann Beirne.
“Thanks to each and every one of you, I appreciate all you do,” said Sibold.
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our volunteers,” added Sibold. “Times are changing, and it’s getting harder to be a volunteer. The demands that are put on you people [are] unbelievable. I just thank you all so much for what you go through.”
Several members who retired during 2017 were recognized during the banquet.
Those included Jerry Burks, Richard “Huck” Tyree, Bobby Rice, Jerry “Hoot” Gibson and the late G.C. Fawley. “This is probably the most retirements I’ve seen in a year’s time in a long time,” said Burton. “It’s tough when you’ve got so much knowledge and experience and leadership that leaves your active ranks.
“We’re still honored, and still have the pleasure, of having you guys around, to lead the department with your wisdom [and] with your knowledge,” Burton added.
The department presented Richard Baker with the annual Fred C. Jesser Memorial Award.
The Jesser Award, created in 2012, is named in memory of Jesser, who was the department’s first chief. He also served a second term which ended upon his death in May, 1938. In 1933, he helped organize what is now the Covington Rescue Squad.
Past winners include Richard “Huck” Tyree, 2017; Harrison Scott, 2016; Dennis Trainer, 2015; Jeff Horn, 2014; Jerry “Hoot” Gibson, 2013; and Wes Walker, 2012.
New working and social officers were recently elected. Officers in the Covington Fire Department serve two-year terms. Mayor Sibold administered the oath of office to both slates of officers.
Working officers for 2017-18 include Andrew Baker, chief; Al Fox, first assistant chief; Wes Walker, second assistant chief; Ross Helmintoller, captain 1; James Bartley, captain 2; Shane Byer, captain 3; Lewis White, captain 4; Kevin Pettitt, lieutenant 1; Raymond Arrington, lieutenant 2; Nick Ginart, lieutenant 3; and Kevin Carson, lieutenant 4.
Social officers include Sara Baker, president; Clyde Selman, vice president; David Crosier, secretary; Harrison Scott, treasurer; Tim Dick, quartermaster; Tim Yancey, chaplain; Mike Collins, legal advisor; C.J. Entsminger, Tim Dick, Bobby Rice, Danny Milton and Jerry Burks, relief committee.
Three new members — Jeremy Workman, Will Atkins and Amanda Paitsel, were also sworn in by Mayor Sibold.
In keeping with tradition, new department members, along with several veteran members and special guests, took turns wearing the ceremonial baby bonnet during the capping ceremony.
Incoming chief Andrew Baker and incoming President Sara Baker offered brief remarks to conclude the evening. “My father got in this department in 1980, so I’ve been around this department since I was born,” said Andrew Baker, the son of Jesser Award winner Richard Baker. “I’ve always wanted to become the chief of the Covington Fire Department, so this is truly a dream come true.”
“Thank you everybody for your support,” said Sara Baker. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone in the future, and doing this job to the best of my abilities.”