More than 200 Mountain Area residents filled the Elk's Lodge Oct. 26 to honor six worthy recipients of the Elk's inaugural Safety Awards.
Dale Miller, a retired 40-year fire service veteran, came up with the idea of the awards. Miller himself was the recipient of such an award in 1967, when he was named Firefighter of the Year by the Thousand Oaks-Simi Valley Elks Club when he served as Captain of the Ventura County Fire Department.
"It was because of that award, I felt the first responders in the Mountain Area deserved similar recognition for their dedication and service to the community," said Miller, who is lead trustee of Elks' Lodge No. 2724.
"This will now be an annual event honoring first responders from the six agencies that serve our area," Miller said.
The recipients were as follows:
Paul Chetwood: Eastern Madera County County Sheriff's Officer of the Year: Deputy Chetwood joined the sheriff's department in Jan. 2005, after serving with the Madera County Probation Department for four years.
In the past year, Chetwood has logged more than 100 patrol checks at the Oakhurst Community Park, frequently issuing citations and making arrests for a variety of offenses.
He oversees the instruction of the department's off-highway vehicle (OHV quads) team and certifies search & rescue and drug enforcement quad team members. The OHV team also patrols portions of the Sierra National Forest and private property for off highway operator safety.
Known for his dependability, Chetwood takes pride in his job and always goes above and beyond the call of duty. He often contacts out-of-county property owners to alert them of vagrants and encampments on their property and receives permission from the property owners to remove the encampments.
Chetwood also organizes reserve deputies and probation department officers to conduct occasional 'sweep' operations in the Mountain Area, arresting people for outstanding warrants.
Chetwood was introduced by Lieutenant Darin McMechan.
Ryan Davis: Cal Fire Firefighter of the Year: Davis started as a volunteer firefighter for Madera County fire at Station 10 in Yosemite Lakes Park in 2001. He spent four years as a seasonal firefighter in Raymond and transferred to the Ahwahnee Station in 2007. He was promoted to Fire Apparatus Engineer in 2009.
He is active in the station's Incident Support Program, Critical Incident Stress Management Team, and is currently finishing training to be on the county Hazardous Materials Team.
He spends a lot of time in fire prevention activities such as school programs and public events.
Davis was introduced by Jim McDougald, Cal Fire Southern Region Headquarters Battalion Chief.
Randy Matyshock: California Highway Patrol Oakhurst Area Officer of the Year: Matyshock began his career in Barstow and has been an officer for more than 14 years. A drug recognition expert, he is one of the most productive officers in Eastern Madera County. He consistently leads in making DUI arrests for both alcohol and drugs and has received multiple awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Matyshock has also taken temporary assignment with the Fresno's Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) unit, which concentrates on auto theft investigations.
Dedicated to the CHP motto of "Safety, Service and Security," Matyshock is dedicated to saving lives on California's roadways.
In his off time, he coaches youth football and basketball.
Matyshock was unable to attend the dinner and his credits were presented by CHP Oakhurst Area Lieutenant, Commander Sandra Adams.
Daniel Rosing: Madera County Firefighter of the Year: Rosing has worked for Madera county fire for 10 years, previously working for the Santa Cruz county fire Department, Salinas and Coalinga Fire Departments, Sierra Ambulance, and with the Cal Fire Chaplains.
He is currently with Station 12 in Oakhurst. His dedication and service to the community can be exemplified by his commitment to training, recently becoming a driver-operator, and he currently holds the the highest response percentage for Station 12 personnel.
Rosing helps with the daily operations of the station, provides logistical and administrative support, and has worked on large fires such as the O'Neals and Rim fires.
Rosing was also introduced by Jim McDougald.
Scott Ramirez: Sierra Ambulance Service Paramedic of the Year: Ramirez is known by his co-workers as a kind, compassionate, intelligent, and skilled caregiver who always does what he says he will do and can always be counted on to be honest and trustworthy.
He has been a paramedic for more than 15 years and joined the Sierra Ambulance team in 2001.
A Triathlete who has run in many races, including Hawaii's grueling Iron Man Triathlon, Ramirez ran in the 2005 Boston Marathon, while raising $1,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Ramirez was introduced by Ed Guzman, General Manager of Sierra Ambulance Service.
Dan Tunes: U.S. Forest Service Employee of the Year: Tune is a Fire Prevention Technician on the Sierra National Forest and has served in that position since 2004. After serving in the U.S. Navy he began his wildland fire career in 1995 as a seasonal firefighter on an engine in Wawona -Yosemite National Park. Following graduation from Humboldt State University in 2000 with a B.S. in Forestry, he became the Fire Protection Specialist for Kansas Forest Service.
After two years of "desk duty," he moved back to California for a position as a Fire Engine Operator with the Bureau of Land Management and then on to a Fire Engine Operator position on the Stanislaus National Forest. After a few years in Fire Suppression, Tunes moved back into fire prevention with his current position on the Sierra National Forest. He is a qualified National Fire Prevention Team Leader and currently serves as the R5 (California) National Fire Prevention Team Coordinator.
Tunes was unable to attend the dinner and his credits were presented by Mike Fralicks, Bass Lake Ranger District fire prevention officer.
Miller called the night a huge success.
"Members of the Elks Lodge felt privileged to honor tonight's recipients," Miller said. "We want to thank the community for the strong showing of support for this important, worth-while event. Our safety service personnel provide some of the best services for taxpayer's dollars. They're always there to help 24-7 and they deserve to be recognized for that."
Miller said the six agencies are made up of a special breed of people.
"They are always in the background until they're needed," Miller said.
The nominations were made by the recipients peers of each of the six agencies.
Each award recipient received a plaque from the Elk's Lodge, a certificate of appreciation from the Madera County Board of Supervisors, presented by District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, and a certificate from the Eastern Madera County Emergency Preparedness Committee, presented by Dave Wolin.
All the award recipients present said it was a pleasure to work in the Mountain Area, to serve the community and were honored to receive the recognition.