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Merriwether Fire Department Holds Christmas Banquet

web posted December 11, 2013

MERRIWETHER The Merriwether Volunteer Fire Department held its Christmas Banquet Tuesday night at the Sweetwater Baptist Church Gym. In addition to the firefighters and their spouses there were local dignitaries in attendance including County Council Vice-chair Genia Blackwell, Councilman Rodney Ashcraft, County Treasurer Arlene Taxler, and Rep. Bill Hixon. After Fire Chief Joey Smith gave a short introduction to guests, Dr. Paul Noe, Pastor at Sweetwater, gave invocation just prior to the meal.

Following the meal Chief Smith began a rundown of they past years calls, which totaled around 300 with 18% of those being actual fires. Most of the calls were to assist EMS and the balance cutting down trees blocking the roadways. Smith then stopped and stated there was a more important call in the past year that was a "life changing experience" for him and many others.

That call was the call for help for Westside Firefighter Wesley Spires after he and his girlfriend on their first date were brutally attacked on Riverwatch in Augusta last May. Wesley was critically injured in the attack and to this day is still recovering from his injuries and was in attendance at the banquet.

Chief Smith said it was a call that brought fire departments, communities, and the county together to Wesley's aid. Fund raisers, Bar-b-que sales (1,500 plates in one day), boot drive and much more. Smith said the turnout from the public was incredible and heartfelt.

Later in the evening were the awards ceremony. Below are the recipients and their respective award.

The Hurbert Bunch Award is given for service to the community. This year's award went to Richard Berry who is pictured below with Firefighter Ray Johnson (left).

Firefighter of the Year went to Ray Johnson and was presented by his son Assistant Chief Junior Johnson.

Lastly were the Rookie of the Year, Bryce Rutland, Officer of the Year Chief Joey Smith and Cadet of the Year Duncan Oliver, pictured below in that order.
 
 



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