On January 15, Ionic Masonic Lodge #38 hosted the second annual “First Responder” Awards dinner in Hamilton to recognize deserving individuals within our community who have been identified by their supervisors or nominating officials as those first responders who truly represent the best in all of us.
The purpose of the ceremony was to publicly recognize first responders and thank them for their service to our community. The presentation of the awards was made by the Masonic Ionic Lodge Worshipful Master Phil Meis. WM Meis reminded attendees that this event is about our families and these individuals recognized who sacrifice their time and efforts to keep us safe, many times putting their own lives in jeopardy.
Those in attendance were the First Responder Honorees and their family members, the nominating official/department head/supervisor and numerous Masonic Brothers and some of their family members. The dinner was prepared and served by members of Ionic Lodge.
Department Head William Torres, EMS Director of Marcus Daly Hospital, recognized AEMT Rachel Wicks (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician) as she has clearly demonstrated her knowledge of her craft, leadership among her peers and her focus on client/patient care. AEMT Wicks is currently earning her final EMT certification, and will continue to be a much-valued member of the Marcus Daly EMT team, and of course, an asset to our community.
Hamilton Volunteer Fire First Assistant Joe Kerr recognized Fire Fighter Tyson Woods for his leadership within the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department. Tyson has nine years of experience within the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department. Per Joe Kerr, Tyson is always calm under pressure, works hard no matter what task is assigned, is knowledgeable and more importantly, saves his complaints until after the call is over. The decision to select Tyson Woods was based on his statistics, some of which include 196 hours of training, participating in 75% of the calls, his hazardous materials training, and currently working on his EMT certification. And finally, as a result of Tyson Woods dedication, Tyson has been promoted to Captain Tyson Woods.
Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster recognized Sgt. Don Niemeir for his commitment to the community. Sgt. Niemeir has been with the department since 2011, and was promoted to Sargent in 2018. Sgt. Niemeir always operates at the highest standard, ever willing to go the extra mile, fills in for other officers when needed, participates in community outreach programs and shows professional courtesy to the public, even under tense situations. Sgt. Niemeir is well deserving of this honor, and a credit to the department.
Sargent Scott Bennett, supervising patrolman for the Montana Highway Patrol, recognized Trooper Lath Keith for his commitment to the safety of our community. Last year Trooper Keith responded to an urgent 911 call from motorists reporting a large semi-truck driving seemingly out of control, heading south from Missoula. Trooper Keith caught up with and went ahead of the truck, warning other vehicles of the possible danger, which included weaving from lane to lane, and the truck crossing over into the north bound lanes. Eventually Trooper Keith was able to pull the driver over in Victor without incident, no harm to anyone, thanks to Trooper Keith.
Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton made the final presentation of the evening to Lt. Jon Moles as he is the “go to” officer in the department. Lt. Moles is intuitive in his approach to law enforcement, always on the job, knows what needs to be done, and also the senior officer that the young officers look up to for guidance. Lt. Moles monitors the police radio contacts with other officers, and is quick to help other officers at a moment’s notice. Sometimes Lt. Moles arrives at the call scene before the other responding officers.
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.
In closing, the WM Phil Meis thanked the participants, their families and the Ionic Brothers for again hosting this First Responder’s Awards Dinner. The awards recipients for this event were mostly centered within the Hamilton community. Future events may broaden the focus to other communities and organizations, to those people who are the unsung heroes within our valley.
Nearly 70 people attended the dinner, so future events may require a larger venue.