An 18-year veteran of the Henry County Fire Department has been promoted to Battalion Chief.
Stacey Ponder, previously a captain, said he is the first African American to hold the position of Battalion Chief in the county's fire department. He had served as a captain since June 2008.
"From the first day I started my career with the Henry County Fire Department, I knew that I was destined for this career path, because of my compassion for people, and my desire to serve," said Ponder.
Ponder was born, and raised, in Locust Grove. He served 4 years in the United States Army, achieving the rank of E4, before becoming a firefighter. He attributes his successful career to his wife of 14 years, Standish, and his two sons, Jaylon, 11, and Jarion, 19.
"I am very proud of him," said Standish Ponder. "He has been very diligent in his duties throughout the years as a firefighter."
Being able to serve in the county where he grew up is a plus, Chief Ponder said. "I have family members that live here, and it feels good knowing that they are getting the best service that we can provide."
"I am very excited to have Chief Ponder as an addition to our command team," said Henry County Fire Chief Bill Lacy. "His commitment to our department and our community has been exceptional, and I know that he will continue to serve with honor and distinction."
"Ponder has worked his way up through the ranks, earning the respect of all those who work with him, from his fellow firefighters, to the many lives he has touched throughout the community," added Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett.
"Chief Ponder is a great leader, with a heart for service," Puckett said. "Ponder is a true professional with exceptional leadership skills, training, and a vision to contribute making the Henry County Fire Department the most effective, efficient, and professional service for the citizens and visitors of Henry County."
Ponder has received several Lifesaver Awards, for saving the lives of numerous Henry County residents. One of his most memorable moments, the new Battalion Chief said, was in the late 1990s, when he arrived at the home of a cardiac arrest patient.
"Upon arrival, the patient was unconscious and unresponsive. We [firefighters from station 2] began CPR, and the patient was taken to Henry Medical Center," he said. "A month later, the victim came to the station to thank all of the firefighters for saving his life. That's gratification for what we do.
"Thanks to all of my mentors, role models, and co-workers, that have helped me achieve my dream, the position of Battalion Chief," he said. "I will continue to wear my uniform with pride. To God, be the glory."