OTTO - There wasn't a truck or emergency vehicle to be seen in the Otto Fire Hall.
Yet the building was filled to capacity with firefighters, ambulance personnel and auxiliary members from the hamlets of Otto and East Otto as they gathered for their annual shared installation banquet, complete with the presentation of newly elected officers, acknowledgement of the past year's service and dinner prepared by John Deliman and his crew from the Village Bakery.
Through the years, Otto and East Otto joined forces so frequently to fight raging barn fires and other rural disasters that it seemed only natural for them to share happier times as well.
East Otto’s 2012 business and line officers are pictured above. Front row, from left, are Anne McCabe, treasurer; Heather Hyde, secretary; and Sue Graser, ambulance lieutenant. Back row, from left, are Bill McCabe, chief; Sid Barber, president; Allen Westfall, vice president; Tim Lexer, first assistant chief; Tom Graser, second assistant chief; James Graser, truck captain; Tom Benz, truck lieutenant; and Brandon Barber, director. Not pictured are Mike Jones, ambulance captain; and John Green, chaplain.
Photos by Arvilla Pritchard
The joint installation banquet grew from those feelings of mutual need, friendship and respect. Typically, the banquet's site alternates between the two communities, with 2012 marking Otto's turn to play host. Robert Barber Sr., outgoing president of the Otto Fire Department, acted as master of ceremonies.
Larry Nagel, District 5 coordinator, presided over the installation of officers, starting with East Otto's line officers: Bill McCabe, chief; Tim Lexer, first assistant chief; Tom Graser, second assistant chief; Jim Graser, truck captain; Tom Benz, truck lieutenant; Mike Jones, ambulance captain; Sue Graser, ambulance lieutenant; and John Green, chaplain. Business officers were also named: Sid Barber; president; Allen Westfall, vice president; Heather Hyde, secretary; Ann McCabe, treasurer; and Brandon Barber, director.
The East Otto Fire Department then distributed its service awards, as follows:
Five Years - Meghan McCabe;
10 Years - Tom Benz and Chris Shattuck;
15 Years - Dave Arnold and Anne McCabe;
20 Years - Bob Wittmeyer and Ed Perry;
30 Years - Tim Lexer; and
40 Years - Dave Forster.
East Otto also honored Bill McCabe, Tom Benz, Mike Jones, Rock Termini and Rob Forster as its top five responders for the past year.
Nagel then administered the oath of office to Otto's 2012 line and business officers, who are as follows: Warren Dickinson, chief; Robert Barber Sr., assistant chief; Duane Moore I, first assistant chief; and Matt Dickinson, second assistant chief. William Pratt was installed as president, Dustin Ryan as vice president, Jeff Evans as secretary, and Don Girod as treasurer.
The following Otto service pins were distributed:
Five Years - Don Vancancellas, Matt Dickinson and Warren Dickinson;
10 Years Allison Girod, Don Girod and Tony Riehle;
15 Years - Dave Seiflein;
25 Years - Jim Barnhart; and
35 Years - Ron Neal.
Otto Volunteer Fire Department officials also gave out several other special awards to members, including:
Top firefighter responder - Dewey Dankert, who, later this year, will receive a Firemen's Association of the State of New York award for 58 years of service;
Top EMS responder - Allison Girod; and
Distinguished Service - William Pratt, for his "almost daily attention" to the fire hall and department issues.
Other Otto personnel receiving recognition were:
Robert Barber Jr. for his work to utilize a federal grant equipping the Otto Fire Hall with more eco-friendly lighting;
Jordan Denamede for the time and effort devoted to designing and running a giveaway for last fall's ham and turkey party;
Duane Moore II, outgoing fire chief, for his commitment to the company;
Don and Allison Girod for their dedication, not only to the ambulance service, but to all the department's fundraising efforts;
Dustin Ryan, the youngest department member, for his voluntary hard work and dedication to duty;
the Dickinson and Stang families for their continued unselfish support of the company and its activities;
Duane Moore I for the time and care put into keeping the trucks shining and ready for service; and
Matt Dickinson for organizing a community open house, which resulted in the recruitment of two new members.