KEYSER - In a night to honor Mineral County's best and brightest, the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce began the Summit Awards Wednesday with the county's often unsung heroes as members paid tribute to law enforcement and fire and emergency medical services.
By Ronda Wertman
KEYSER - In a night to honor Mineral County’s best and brightest, the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce began the Summit Awards Wednesday with the county’s often unsung heroes as members paid tribute to law enforcement and fire and emergency medical services.
Harry Alt was a past chief and member of Keyser Volunteer Fire Department, past president of the Cumberland Valley Fireman’s Association, West Virginia State Fire Association, and Mineral County Fireman’s Association.
A beloved educator in Mineral County Schools, he was also a devoted educator with the West Virginia Fire Service and a West Virginia Forest Fire Warden.
Each year, Luke McKenzie, director of Mineral County Emergency Services, recognizes one member of the community for a lifetime of outstanding volunteer service and education with the Harry Alt Award.
Recognized this year was David Rucker, who was nominated by his fellow members at the New Creek Volunteer Fire Department. A life member of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Rucker has spent the past six years serving residents as a dispatcher with Mineral County 911 Center.
Bringing greetings to the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Keyser mayor Damon Tillman, Keyser Police chief Tom Golden recognized officers Marc Yonker and Doug Rumer for intense courage under fire.
Golden recalled how on Nov. 12, 2018, officers responded to the call for shots fired in the area of Spring Street and Fort Avenue - just down the street from where the annual Summit Awards were being held at Davis Hall on the campus of Potomac State College.
With an active shooter situation, officers were on site as the K9 unit vehicle was damaged by gunfire.
“This means a lot,” said Mineral County sheriff Jeremy Taylor, noting that serving as law enforcement and first responders is a thankless job.
“I’m very proud of our department. These two guys go above and beyond,” he said, recognizing Lt. Chris Leatherman and Deputy Jonathan Hotchkiss.
“Mineral County is very fortunate. The people we have here in law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) are the best of the best,” said Taylor.
He explained how both Leatherman and Hotchkiss are not only involved in law enforcement, but are also trained and volunteer with fire, EMS and rescue on their days off.
It was this training that was invaluable on the night of Feb. 25 as strong winds ripped the roof from an apartment building behind the jail.
The roof landed on a victim outside the structure and Taylor praised the officers for their ability to extricate the victim.
In a second incident, Hotchkiss was returning from the Regional Jail in Augusta when Burlington Fire and EMS was alerted for a cardiac arrest.
Hotchkiss was first on the scene and began CPR, which was important in changing the outcome for this patient.
Taylor presented the officers with awards for their live saving efforts along with valor pins to wear on their uniforms.
On another note, Chamber of Commerce president Randy Crane also recognized Taylor for recently pulling someone from a burning building on Main Street.