Grand Gorge Fire Dept. hosted annual dinner

By Karen Hinkley
The annual Grand Gorge Fire Department dinner was held at the company’s firehouse on Saturday, April 6.

President Dan Ballard welcomed over 70 guests including special guests Prattsville Fire Department Chief Tom Olson and guest Davia Montie; Marty Finch, Roxbury Fire Department Ex-Chief and his wife Rita, and Ray Buel, 1st Assistant Chief of the Conesville Fire Department and his wife Betty Lou. The buffet dinner was catered by Clark’s Bar & Restaurant of Gilboa.

Chief DJ Speenburgh introduced the slate of officers for 2013. They are Chief, DJ Speenburgh; 1st Assistant Chief, Wink Hinkley; 2nd Assistant Chief, Josh Ernst; Captains, Hank Gockel Jr. and Dave Lebel; Safety Officer, Tom Murray; President, Dan Ballard; Vice President, Jim Hull; Secretary, Dan Pickett; Treasurer, Jack VanValkenburgh; Parade Captain, Tony Rodriguez and Stewards, Gene Brainerd, Deb Brainerd, and Karen Speenburgh.

Service awards
Chief DJ Speenburgh announced the following servce awards: 40 years, Tom Murray; 35 years, Karen Hinkley, Bill Davis, Linda Gockel, and Ed Hinkley; 30 years Gary VanAken and 15 years, Joe Bussiere.

EMS Co-Captain Karen Hinkley presented highlights of the year 2012 in a PowerPoint display of photos taken during the year. GGRS Lieutenant Bill Schryver announced that GGRS responded to over 125 calls including several motor vehicle accidents, sick person calls, off-road allergic reaction using the department’s all-terrain vehicle and several search and rescue missions.

The squad was also involved in other important things including: EMS recruitment at local schools, ongoing training, drills, NYS conference, EMS memorial service, community dances, parades, assisted at Delaware County Fair providing EMS coverage, hosted several Red Cross Blood drives, assists the fire department – standby at fires, chicken barbecue fundraisers, etc. and provide mutual aid to neighboring districts.

New members
Bill Schryver introduced the two newest squad members, Roberta VanValkenburgh and Nicci Gockel. They recently completed a basic EMT course in Delhi, which ran from November through April twice a week. They also had to complete clinical time at local hospitals as well as ride alongs with actual call responses to emergencies. They tested out in April and after waiting several weeks for their test results are now certified as NYS Emergency Medical Technicians. They were presented with bouquets in appreciation for their dedication and commitment to the Grand Gorge community from Co-Captain Karen Hinkley.

Of course, everyone realizes the importance of volunteers in our community – we need and appreciate all of them! But there are always those who respond time after time and really go above and beyond the call of duty. This year the squad recognized the department’s top responders answering the call 20 or more times. They are Josh Ernest, Dottie Carroll, DJ Speenburgh, Patty and Steve Williamson, Dan Ballard, Hank Gockel Jr., Dave Lebel, Tony Rodriquez, Tom Murray, Karen Hinkley, Joe Bussiere, Bill Schryver, Tammie Wyckoff, Tom Miner, Krista Cross, and Mike Cross.
The squad’s top responder was Wink S. Hinkley Sr. Each was presented with a GGFD imprinted folding canvas chair.

Culminating the night GGFD 1st Assistant Chief Wink Hinkley recognized members for their “always at the ready” dedication including Captains Dave Lebel, Hank Gockel Jr., and President Dan Ballard.