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Fire District 3 honors excellence
Outstanding members of Island County Fire District 3 and hundreds of years of service were recently saluted at the district’s annual awards banquet at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.
A full house and several standing ovations highlighted the evening.
“We can’t exist without our volunteers,” Fire Chief Rusty Palmer said following the event. “It’s important to provide recognition, so they continue to do what they do, which is so vital to the community.”
The department’s highest honor, the Carl Simmons Officer Choice Award, went to Capt. Jim Towers of Saratoga Station 35.
Towers, of Langley, has been with the district for 24 years, and was voted winner of the award by fellow officers for outstanding service throughout 2009.
The award is named for Carl Simmons of Clinton, who at 50 years was the longest-serving volunteer in the district before retiring. He is the father of Kenon Simmons, chairman of the fire district commission.
Lt. Ken Starkweather of Freeland’s Station 31 was named Overall Firefighter of the Year. He also received the Star of Life, most inspirational, paramedic and the Freeland station’s Firefighter of the Year awards.
A firefighter and emergency medical technician, Starkweather, of Freeland, is a lieutenant in the district’s medical service.
Other station Firefighters of the Year winners were Paul Shimada (Clinton station), Tony Price (Maxwelton), Justin Parker (Langley), Joe Friea (Saratoga) and Brandon Callahan (Bayview).
Additional honors went to Brandon Callahan, marine rescue responder of the year; Dylan Jefferies, fire prevention and public education; Kimberly Boenish, support services; and Don Mason, outstanding technical rescue team member.
Certificates recognizing years of service were awarded. They include Paul Busch and Andy O’Keefe
(30 years); Forrest Hughes and Jeff Parker (20 years); Frank Mestemacher, Donald Elliot, Eldon Baker and Robert Elliot (15 years); Don Mason, James Berto, Charles Baker, Ken Starkweather, Melissa Simmons, Liz Smith, Bill Frederick, Jon Gabelein and Bert Mason (10 years); and Eric Walters, Kevin Craig, Dylan Jefferies, Brandon Callahan and Amber O’Brien (five years).
The district covers 66 square miles and 54 miles of shoreline, from south of Greenbank to Clinton and serves a population of 14,000.
There’s a paid staff of six and about 100 volunteers staffing stations at Freeland, Clinton, Maxwelton, Langley, Saratoga and Bayview.