Grand Gorge firefighter nominated for state award

Grand Gorge firefighter nominated for state award

By Julia Green
When the Grand Gorge Fire Department held its annual firemen’s banquet on Saturday, March 1, former Rescue Squad Co-Captain Karen Hinkley had done a little extra preparation for one of the awards. Grand Gorge Firefighter Thomas E. Miner Sr. was nominated for the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) Fire Service Community Achieve-ment Award – an award that he received at the local level, and for which he is now in the running for at the state level.
Hinkley compiled a binder of endorsement letters, certificates, and other relevant materials and submitted the nomination to the FASNY office in Albany, and also created a video presentation about Miner.
“I had to put a packet together with copies of awards he’s won, letters of endorsement from fire companies, letters from his golf club. Kind of a ‘this is your life.’ This isn’t something that just happened to Tom in the past year, it’s something that’s been in his blood since he was a little guy. This is an ongoing thing. This is just Tom’s nature.”
“I’m kind of humbled by this award,” Miner said. “After [Karen] did the homework and got the fire department and the rescue squad to vote on it and everything, in order to get the award she had to send out requests for letters from different departments and different places. After going through the letters that were written, it makes any person humble to see how people think of you.
“It was a shock to me when they put the presentation on and chief was speaking and Karen had done it so well. But then to be nominated at FASNY level was far beyond my expectations.”
The award, the recipient of which will be announced April 12, is presented to a person described as “an outstanding member of a volunteer fire department.” According to the award criteria published by FASNY, a successful candidate shows dedication and leadership not only within the fire department, but also in the community as a whole, filling leadership positions in community, religious or charitable organizations.
Upon reading the criteria, Hinkley said Miner seemed to be the perfect candidate.
“I get a lot of information from FASNY in the mail and I got a flyer that said, ‘If you have someone you think is worthy of this nomination, please nominate and give the criteria.’ I sat back for a moment and thought of who would be a good nominee. He is this person they describe in the nomination. I know Tom and I know how he steps up to the plate whenever we need him. There are so many things that he does, not only for us as a local community, but for everyone, right down to when you go to his store to buy a piece of furniture.”
Miner, whose commitment to fire service began with his hometown fire department in Treadwell, comes from a long line of firefighters, including his grandfather, father, and brothers, who are still members of the fire department in Treadwell. He and his wife, Gail, have a son, Tom Jr., who works with his father in Stamford and is also a member of the fire department in Stamford. They also have a daughter, Valerie Tait, who resides in Treadwell.
In addition to his 34 years of service to the Grand Gorge Fire Department, Miner owns T&G Furniture in Stamford and is an honorary member of the Stamford Fire Department. He was also a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, joining in 1965 and remaining active until 1971, during which time he served a two-year tour of active duty. He was elected commissioner of the Grand Gorge Fire District in 1999 and has actively served on the board since then, being named chairman in 2007 and 2008. Other community commitments include serving as a scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts in Grand Gorge, coaching little league baseball in Grand Gorge, serving as the major sponsor of the Relay for Life team of volunteers since 2003, and working with the Red Cross. Additionally, Miner is a member of the Stamford Kiwanis, the Grand Gorge Community Action Group, the Delaware County CDO Workforce, the Masons, and previously served as commander of the American Legion Post #86. He is the vice president and a member of the board of the Stamford Golf Club and a member of the Grand Gorge United Methodist Church.
Miner said he didn’t even recall some of the groups he had been involved with over the years – a sentiment his daughter echoed when discussing her father’s community involvement with Hinkley.
“She said, ‘Karen, I didn’t even know these things about my father,’” Hinkely remembered.
“Well, you don’t go spreading it around,” Miner said.
The winner of the state award will be announced April 12.
“Of course, we expect him to be the winner, but you never know who will be nominated,” Hinkley said. “In our book, Tom’s a winner – but we still want him to win the state award.”
She highlights his service as commissioner as an indicator of Miner’s leadership not just within the fire department, but also in the community as a whole.
“It speaks for the fact that people in the community, not just fire department brothers, vote him in as commissioner to handle their tax dollars. That’s why he is the person for this award – because he does everything.”
“Not alone,” Miner is quick to add. “Without them, I’d be just me.”