Photo by Elaine Rackley
Clayton County Fire Department EMS Chuck Devane (center) was awarded Public Safety Professional of the Year.
(From left) Deputy Chief Blaine Clark, Deputy Chief Tim Sweat, Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke, Firefighter Chuck Devane, Firefighter Ryan Roth, Firefighter Lorenzo Wyatt, Assistant Chief Landry Merkison, Deputy Chief David King.
JONESBORO — One of the world's foremost Catholic fraternal benefit societies, the Knights of Columbus paid homage to several Clayton County public safety personnel.
Nearly 60 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians attended the 40th Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day, held Wednesday at Tara Hall, located at 481 Flint River Road in Jonesboro.
Ryan Hall and Chuck Devane beat out 14 other public safety workers nominated for the titles.
Sgt. Johnathon James Police Officer City of Jonesboro Police Department
Capt. Harold Simmons, Police Officer, Lake City Police Department
Ryan Roth, EMT, Clayton County Fire Department
Lorenzo Wyatt, Firefighter, Clayton County Fire Department
Sgt. Jeff Greene, Firefighter, Clayton County Fire Department
Tabitha Carver, Dispatcher, Clayton County Police Department
Merle “Tyson” Mills, Firefighter, Forest Park Fire Department
Holly Smith, 911 Operator, Forest Park Police Department
Chad Watkins, Police Officer, Forest Park Police Department
Sgt. Larry Oglesby, Police Officer, Morrow Police Department
Sgt. Warren Long, EMT, Riverdale Fire Department
Sgt. Tommy Polnaszek, EMT, Riverdale Fire Department
Patrick Gutierrez, EMT, Riverdale Fire Department
Deputy Isaac Britt, Police Officer, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office
Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell read a proclamation from the Board of Commissioners during the award ceremony, and Leonard Chamblis covered the public safety men and women in prayer.
The Knights of Columbus has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.
“This program is well worth it,” said Mark Hale, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus’ Tara Council. “All of our public safety folks don’t get the recognition that they deserve.”
Clayton County undercover officers were recognized for the first time in the 40-year history of the Knights of Columbus holding an appreciation day, according to Hale.
“We gave it as a blanket award to all of the undercover officers in the county,” he said.
Clayton County firefighterFire Medic, Charles “Chuck” Devane was awarded Public Safety Officer Professional of the year and Clayton County Police Officer Ryan Hall was named “Police officer of the Year” during the award ceremony.
Devane has been with the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services since 2006. He is a P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standard Training) certified instructor with a specialty in emergency medical service.
He said he didn’t think he would be one of the people honored when he received an invitation for the luncheon.
“I was totally shocked and surprised,” he said.
Devane has received county awards in the past, but said winning this award was different, he added. Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Sgt. Zach Botkin nominated Devane for the award
“The way Sgt. Botkin talked about me in the letter,” Devane said, “I was surprised that he had even taken notice of me.
“Then, when they called my name while at the luncheon, I was lost for words. I was totally not prepared. It was an amazing feeling, it was that tingling feeling that you get. I had no idea that I had won. It is always good to be recognized for your work.”
He said he is grateful for the recognition.
“Everybody has been congratulating me and it’s great feeling,” he continued. “It’s great to be a part of this department that allows me to do what I really enjoy doing and to know that someone thought enough of me to nominate me for the award.”
Throughout Devane’s career, he has been awarded nine Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services (CCFES) awards, a Clayton County Rescue Award, which involved extricating a Clayton County police officer and his K-9 partner from a patrol car. In 2010, he received a Region III Pediatric Award of Excellence. He was also a recipient of two Cardiac Life-Saving Awards from the Coweta Fire and EMS.
“Chuck has made taking care of people not only a career but a lifestyle,” Botkin said in his nomination letter. “This year Chuck sacrificed much of his time off by working on the CCFES protocol revision committee which was developed to ensure that CCFES is up to date on all current pharmaceuticals, equipment, training, and procedures. All of the recommendations that his committee proposed were accepted and have now been implemented into CCFES patient care protocols.”
Botkin said he nominated Devane because of his commitment to providing the highest level of care and his outstanding leadership along with his training abilities.
Our Lady of Mercy 11th-grader Nastasia Buckley was this year’s essay winner for her essay entitled “Public Safety Professionals and Teenagers.”
“This was something I could actually talk about,” she said.
Buckley, 16, read her essay during the Appreciation Day award ceremony.
“Despite the difficulty, however, there are certain steps that can be taken to bring awareness of their jobs to the teenagers in their community and to, hopefully encourage relationships between them and the public safety professionals,” Buckley wrote in her essay.
Buckley’s mother Hillary Lobban said she was proud of her daughter.
“I think she did an excellent job with getting her point across to let the police and firefighters know that they need to connect with the younger generation,” Lobban said. “I think it will build a stronger society.”
Gordon Satkowiak has served as master of ceremonies for the award appreciation ceremony for the last five years. He said the essay was written by someone who was beyond the typical 11th-grader.
“It is heartwarming to know that we have these kinds of folks working for us,” Satkowiak said. “It was a pleasure to honor our public safety today.”