On this September 11th, two special and local first responders were recognized for their service in their communities.
The two men have different backgrounds but were acknowledged for the same reason on Monday morning.
First Responders Honor Park in Gang Mills served as a venue of recognition at the Patriot Day Remembrance ceremony.
Co-recipients of the Tri-County First Responder of the Year awards were Deputy Dean Swan of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office and Arthur “Rick” Churches of the Odessa Fire Department.
Deputy Swan was acknowledged for laying down the initial groundwork in the Kelley Clayton murder case as the first responding officer on scene.
“It’s very humbling,” Deputy Swan said. “You know, I don’t do this job to get awards. I do the job because I enjoy the job.”
Sheriff James Allard compared Swan’s work to a mason building a home saying if the foundation isn’t created properly, cracks will develop and the structure will crumble.
“The same way with the first responding officer, if they don’t do their job the way they’re trained and the way they’re supposed to do it, that structure, when it goes to trial, will fail,” Sheriff Allard said. “What we saw as direct evidence of the excellent job Deputy Swan did, was that when this went to trial, it did not fail.”
Churches’s 51 years of volunteering service did not go unnoticed. He’s been a powerhouse leader, developer, and trainer throughout Schuyler County’s first responder programs and units for over five decades.
“It’s an honor, very much an honor to receive even though it’s not something you look forward to or try to achieve when you go out and do the job, but it’s nice to get the recognition,” Churches said.
This was the third consecutive year these awards have been carefully chosen and distributed.