On January 11, Ionic Masonic Lodge #38 began the tradition of a “First Responder” Awards dinner to honor individuals within the community who have been identified by their supervisors or nominating officials as those First Responders who represent the best. The purpose of the ceremony was to publicly recognize First Responders and thank them for their service.
The presentation of the awards was made by Ionic Lodge Worshipful Master Dutch Brewer. WM Brewer reminded everyone that the event was about recognizing individuals “who sacrifice their time and efforts to keep us safe, many times putting their own lives in jeopardy.”
Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster introduced his nominee, Officer Norm Williams. Officer Williams in a typical day can manage an unruly drug arrest and during the same tour of duty assist an 85 year old woman in finding her car.
Sargent Scott Bennett, supervising patrolman for the Montana Highway Patrol, recognized Officer Patrick Heaney who after serving honorably in the military came to the Montana Highway Patrol. Sargent Bennett spoke of the commitment to duty by Officer Heaney, the first to volunteer and always the Officer to call on when assistance was needed.
Director William Torres, EMS Director of Marcus Daly Hospital, recognized Josh Clinton for his leadership within his group of paramedics. Not only is he one of the best paramedics, said Torres, but more importantly, Josh never hesitates to share his knowledge with other EMTs. Josh is the mentor and teacher, a person that Director Torres continually depends upon for his leadership.
Hamilton Assistant Fire Chief Joe Kerr recognized Tom Pitzinger for his leadership within the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department. Tom not only assists with all the responsibilities that come as a result of being an active firefighter, but is in charge of the Fire Prevention program which is presented to our local schools.
Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton made the final presentation of the evening to Detective Jase Basnaw for his leadership within the department. Per Sheriff Holton, Jase never has a bad day and is always in the office ready to provide leadership to those other officers around him. Detective Basnaw is primarily the Narcotics officer for the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Holton also complimented the judges and prosecutors within our valley for the excellent work that they perform each and every day.
More than 60 people attended the event and were treated to a free dinner prepared by the Leona Chapter #31, Order of Eastern Star.
Ionic Lodge #38 is a Masonic organization within the umbrella of the Masonic families, which include Shriners, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Order of Eastern Star, youth groups Rainbow Girls, Jobs Daughters and Demolay for young men.
This first-ever event focused on Hamilton’s First Responders, but the lodge plans to broaden the focus in the future to other communities and organizations, including all the local volunteer firefighters who risked their lives during this last fire season.