- Published on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 12:00
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Every year, since becoming a member in 1982, current Fire Chief Michael Gutridge has attended the annual installation of officers’ ceremony held at the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department. This year he could not be there, as he was stationed in Connecticut, on detail for FEMA, to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy. He is working in New York, in the Long Island Sound area, going door to door to offer help to anyone in need.
Thanks to an internet service called “Skype” and Michael’s undying dedication to OGVFD, he was able to make his presence known, albeit virtually. As the other 2013 line officer nominees stood with their right
hands raised, there was Michael, or his image, on the screen of a laptop, right hand raised, repeating the oath read by Westmoreland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Julia Sichol. Naturally, he was in line next to his daughter, Jamie Gutridge Conn, who was being sworn in as Second Lieutenant. She has been his right hand in communicating OGVFD affairs to him while he is away.
Most in attendance found this humorous, which in truth, was part of his plan. All were impressed, but not surprised, that Michael would find a way to be there. He was awarded the firefighter responding to the most calls in 2012. He has received this same award for twenty-nine years in a row now. This year he responded to 410 out of 410 calls. It was the first time he had reached 100%. Note: OGVFD’s fiscal year runs from November 1 through October 31.
The following is a list of 2013 officers and 2012 awards winners: Line Officers are; Chief: Mike Gutridge, Assistant Chief: Ray Irvine, Captain: Roy Richards, Lieutenants: Larry Jones, Jamie Gutridge Conn and Jamal Harvey, Sergeant 4: Travis Irvine, Sergeant 4A: Ryan Huffman. Board Members; President: Larry Jones, Vice President: Mark Sydnor, Treasurer: Jamie Gutridge Conn, Secretary: Virginia Shepherd, Member at Large: Jim Latane. Top call responders of the year; 1st Place-Mike Gutridge 2012- 410 out of 410, 2nd Place-336 Jim Latane, 3rd Place-283 Ryan Huffman, 4th Place-188 Jamie Gutridge Conn, 5th Place-Ray Irvine. Chief’s Choice Member of the year; Jack Balderson. Chief’s Choice Line Officers of the year; Ray Irvine and Jamie Gutridge Conn. Chief’s Choice Junior Member of the year: Taylor Garrison. Top Juniors: Taylor Garrison, Michael Chauncey, Xavius Tate, Erin Doerr and Kayli Sydnor. Life Member Award was given to Lisa Dodd. Members of the Year: Jamie Gutridge Conn, Larry Jones and Mike Gutridge. Fireman of the Year picked by the members was a two-way tie between Mike Gutridge and Ryan Huffman. The Ira Marks Memorial Award went to Jack Balderson. This was an award that is given in memory of the Past Fire Chief, Ira Marks, who passed away a few years ago. Wayne Balderson Memorial Award was given to Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office. Fundraising Awards: Mac Sydnor, Mark Sydnor, Angie Sydnor, Jim Latane, Nancy Chamberlin, Jerry Chamberlin, Vie Benson, Arlene Purcell, Roy Richards, Virginia Shepherd.