Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional information about the Pettis County Fire Department.
Members of seven law enforcement and first responder agencies as well as community members gathered to recognize those who are dedicated to public safety during the annual Respect for Law banquet Thursday night.
The Noonday and Sunrise Optimist Clubs hosted the annual event at Best Western State Fair Inn to recognize members from the seven departments for their service to the community.
Guest speaker Kerry Hatton, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke about the Missouri Information Analysis Center where the Columbia native has worked for about three years. He noted that it takes partnerships to make things happen in law enforcement.
“We’re working for the same common goal from a national perspective, but a lot of times some of the information we receive comes from our state and local partners,” he said. “I can’t emphasize enough how important our state and local partnerships are, how they continue to be and how they always will be a part of what we do, how we do it, and how we try to piece this together. … We all are one in this fight.”
Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency recognized volunteer Leonard Hall, who has been part of the organization for more than 20 years.
“This is an individual that if either (SPCEMA Director) Dave (Clippert) or I call, he’s ready to go,” said Deputy Director Mark Jackson. “Doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is, he’s just ready to go out. … He’s been voted Spotter of the Year twice — that’s how dedicated he is. It would be very hard to get along without him.”
The Pettis County Ambulance District chose EMT Vicky Tolliver as their 2016 recipient.
“A lot of times we do these, it’s for someone who’s life-saving. This one’s not so much that, it’s more for her dedication to our service,” John Fluty said. “She’s kind of like a mother figure on my shift. We have a lot of young people and she helps me keep them in control. We have 11 people on our shift, and I’d like to recognize her for helping me out with that.”
Firefighter Matt Gardner, a 16-year department member, was this year’s recipient for the Pettis County Fire Department and was presented his plaque by Capt. Steve Zeiler. Gardner has made the 100 Run Club several times and has earned several certifications. He began his career with PCFD during his senior year of high school, taking training classes on weekends.
“I don’t feel like I deserve all this recognition. There are other members of our department that are very deserving of this,” Gardner told the audience. “I think we’re very fortunate in the City of Sedalia and County of Pettis to have so many wonderful individuals to be working in our community.”
Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond recognized Deputy Shawn P. Apel, who has been with the department for almost nine years.
“He has had the opportunity to work in several of the divisions and because sometimes there’s few of us on and far between, a long ways to get back up, you have to be out there and be a self-initiator and be able to do your job well,” Bond said.
Sedalia Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld honored Capt. Donald Sattler for his dedication to not only the community but also his fellow firefighters.
“He’s the absolute perfect employee that we want to convey to our younger firefighters that come on,” Ditzfeld said. “We started about a year ago assembling our instructors for our first academy class and this guy went right to the top, even to the point where all the students that attended chose him as their favorite instructor. I know he’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s passionate about the department and the community.”
“It is pretty awesome, after 22 years of service, not once have I ever woke up and thought, ‘I don’t want to go to work today,’” Sattler told the audience. “That’s pretty spectacular.”
Already recognized at the Sedalia Police Department’s annual awards ceremony earlier this year as Officer of the Year, Chief John DeGonia presented the award to Officer Travis Lorenz, a member of the K-9 Unit.
“He may not have stripes on his arm, but that doesn’t mean anything because he leads by example,” DeGonia said. “… He’s a natural leader. Anything you ask him to do, he does.”
The last plaque of the night was presented to Corporal Josh Owens of MSHP, who is one of two Assistant Zone Commanders in Pettis County and a nine-year veteran of the Patrol. He was described as willing and able, dedicated and reliable, and was the only zone member to score “excellent” in every category of the Patrol’s PT test last year.
“Josh is a self-motivated officer who leads by example in everything he does. He has outstanding work ethic,” Sgt. Mark DeGraffenreid said. “He was second in total enforcement contacts, second in total arrests, third in drug arrests, third in traffic crashes investigated and he was the zone leader in removing intoxicated drivers off the road.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.