The Cattaraugus Fire Department, Ambulance Squad and Women's Auxiliary recently hosted state Sen. Catherine M. Young, R-Olean, at their 2012 Installation Ceremony.
"We feel so privileged to have you here," Fire Department President Eileen Williams told Young while introducing her to the crowd.
Senator Young, for her part, said she's harbored a lifelong admiration for volunteer first responders. She said she deeply respects their dedication to duty.
Department President Eileen Williams and Pastor Mike Jones of Roberts Memorial Free Methodist Church accept Firemen of the Year plaques from Wayne Stein, Cattaraugus Volunteer Fire Department chief, and Jim Clendening, first assistant chief. From left are Jones, Clendening, Stein and Williams.
"I wish it was possible for me to attend every one of these ceremonies all over my district," she added.
The senator pointed out that many people don't realize the reliance of smaller communities on volunteerism for their fire and ambulance protection. She said few understand how many hours the volunteers spend working without pay for their communities, training to operate increasingly complicated equipment, maintaining and cleaning the fire hall and trucks, and, when necessary, putting themselves in harm's way for the good of others.
As part of her presentation, Senator Young handed out individual proclamations to Wayne Harvey, Lenny McGlynn, Robert Polanski, Rick Tackentien, Larry Schosek and Wayne Stein, six firefighters who have served their area faithfully over a span of many years.
This year's "Fireman of the Year" awards went to Eileen Williams and Mike Jones in acknowledgment of their outstanding work on behalf of the organization during the preceding year. Wayne Stein, chief, and Jim Clendening, first assistant chief, made the presentations.
In accordance with custom, yellow long-stemmed roses were offered to the widows of department members who passed away in the past year. The women so-recognized were Anna Mallaber, Patty Murphy, Arvilla Pritchard, Phyllis Rogan, Marilyn Wasmund and Dawn Weishan.
Attorney Scott Printup presided over the installations, administering the oath of office to new officers of, not only the fire department, but also the ambulance squad and the women's auxiliary.
Service pins were distributed by the firemen and the auxiliary. In addition, the department gave recognition in another important category, the number of responses to fire calls in the previous year.
William Ellis scored highest with 51. In descending order, the others were Wayne Stein, 44 years, Mike Jones, 35 years, Tom Mormile, 32 years, Jim Clendening, 27 years, Steve Griffith, 25 years, Cory Jensen, 22 years, Dennis Seekins, 21 years, Rick Tackentien, 20 years, and Kimber Erhart, 15 years.
Before ending the formal proceedings, Stein took a moment to speak of his long association with fellow fireman Bill Ellis, who recently retired from the service and was absent from the banquet.
"Bill's been assistant chief for many years," Stein said. "We've worked together a long time - so long that he usually knew what I needed before I did. Bill, you'll be sorely missed."
Ellis played an important role in coordinating the department's annual fire prevention program with that of Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School's elementary staff.