By Michelle Vineyard
The 42nd annual Navarro County Firefighters Banquet was held at the IOOF Event Center in Corsicana on August 15, 2023. This event is a time for the local volunteer fire departments in Navarro County to gather for food, camaraderie, and recognition for their achievements throughout the year. The banquet was opened by Jeannie McCarty, President. After the invocation given by John Robinson, dinner was served. The delicious banquet dinner was catered by Texas 22 BBQ.
The evening’s speaker was Steve Buchanan, Chief Fire Training Officer of Navarro College Fire Academy, and Arlington Fire Department. His speech focused on many topics, including the importance of making room for “new blood” on the fire departments. He encouraged the veteran department members to embrace the newcomers, as the service is not sustainable without allowing new people into their ranks. He emphasized the need to embrace newer advancements and newer technologies, and to let go of the “old glory days.” He gave an example of driving in the “older” days, when we had to navigate with a paper map. These days, you are able to navigate on your cell phone via GPS, with the added benefits of showing when there is a traffic jam, quicker routes, and locating the nearest food and gas stations. After Steve’s rousing speech, the departments were awarded for their achievements over the previous year.
Several departments were acknowledged for “Perfect Attendance,” meaning that they had a member in attendance for every association meeting. These departments were RC 287, Angus, Chatfield, Dawson, Eureka, Kerens, Mildred, and Richland.
There were five nominees for Firefighter of the year. These firefighters were all nominated for their willingness to go the extra mile and participate in duties outside of their normal service, considering that all of the firefighters are volunteers and unpaid for their service, this reflects their level of dedication to the communities that they serve. The nominees included- Bruce Speak, Fire Chief of RC 287, Don Gavin of Kerens VFD, Dylan Tidwell of Angus VFD, and Corey White of Southern Oaks. Aaron Hogue, Fire Chief of Dawson was recognized as the 2023 Firefighter of the year for his professionalism and exemplary service to Dawson VFD, and the community.
There were three departments in the running for Department of the year, Including Kerens VFD, Angus VFD, and Richland VFD. Richland was chosen for their quick (and numerous) responses to accidents along the busy I-45 and fire calls. This department is recognized by other area departments for always being able to quickly send resources at any time of the day or night, participation in fundraising efforts. They were also able to receive a grant for a new truck, to replace some of their dated equipment.
Navarro County is truly blessed to have these wonderful men and women that selflessly volunteer their time in service to their communities.