WARSAW — The annual Kosciusko County Fire Association fish fry wasn’t just an evening to enjoy fish and camaraderie, but also an evening to recognize firefighters with the annual attendance, service and firefighter of the year awards. This was the 72nd annual fish fry for the association.
Loren Melton, Etna Green Fire Department, received the service award, Winona Lake Chief Mitch Titus and Rick Hurley, Claypool Fire Department, received the firefighter of the year award.
An additional award was presented this year, the Global District Award, Fifth District, was presented to Everett Butch Warren, Mentone Fire Department.
Melton has been a firefighter for 53 years and was the first, first responder on the department. He has held all position with the department, served on different committees within the association including the tower and radio committee. “He has been beneficial to the department in the past and in the future,” Roger Gelbaugh, master of ceremonies, read from his nomination.
The nomination for Titus stated “he has been dedicated since the day of becoming a firefighter.” Titus rose through the ranks in the department, elected as chief in 2007. It was noted the equipment Titus has obtained for the department and his activeness in the county fire association
Hurley was the second recipient of the fireman of the year award. Hurley has been in the fire service for21 years, has served with three different departments, and has been instrumental in teaching classes. “He is dedicated to the fire service, never looking for praise, just doing what he loves and serve where needed.”
Warren’s involvement in the fire service was noted, along with the numerous awards received, certifications, seminars and classes he has attended in his 50 plus years as a firefighter. “I get these awards and I appreciate them, but it is not a one man award, whether fireman of the year, service award, you have people behind you … appreciate this award.
The Friend of the Fireman Award was presented to the Kosciusko County Highway Department and KREMC for their service to the fire departments during the winter, after storms, heavy rains and accidents.
Additionally the evening included hearing from Monica Kelsey, founder of the Safe Haven Baby Box program and Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson.
Kevin McSherry, county association president, highlighted a few projects of the association, including the installation of the Safe Haven Baby Box, which cost approximately $10,000, potential at Warsaw Wayne Township Fire Station 3. Coordinators for the annual Toys For Tots drive were announced with a Dec. 1 tentative collection date.
John Grolich, Indiana Volunteer Firefighter’s Association District 5 Chairman, presented 10 and 25 year awards to a number of firefighters throughout the county.
Firefighters were not the only ones attending this annual event. A handful of town council members, county council members, township advisory boards and township trustees were present.