Police, firefighters receive Valor awards

Representatives of local towns and public-safety organizations, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and its members gathered Friday, Feb. 11, to honor members of area fire companies and police departments for their work in the community.

The 2005 Valor Awards Luncheon was held at the Den at Bear Trap Dunes and featured narratives from each honoree’s commanding officer or supervisor, detailing their hard work and dedication.

PFC L. Chatham Marsch was named the outstanding police officer for the Bethany Beach Police Department (BBPD). Chief Michael D. Redmon described a particular incident highlighting Marsch’s qualifications for the award.

“Last June, Marsch was on duty at 3 a.m. when dispatch requested officers respond to an attempted home invasion in Turtle Walk. The suspect, armed with a handgun, had fled but his description was broadcast,” Redmon recalled.

“The following night, Marsch observed someone matching the description leaving the Wawa at 5 a.m. Marsch followed his vehicle back to Turtle Walk and stopped him for a traffic violation. The driver was identified as the perpetrator and arrested for all crimes associated with the home invasion and the traffic stop — and the truck was stolen, too,” Redmon noted with a laugh for all those present at the event.

Redmon and Chamber President Phil Fleming presented Marsch with a plaque honoring his selection as a Valor Award recipient.

Fenwick Island Police Chief Colette Sutherland praised the communications skills of Patrolman Robert Beckage in describing why she nominated him for the Valor Award.

“He has the grace and skill to assist the visitors and residents to our Quiet Resorts in a manner that brings credit to the department and pride to the council,” she said.

Of further value to the department, Sutherland said, was Beckage’s assistance with technology issues. “Patrolman Beckage has also become an invaluable resource in dealing with the fast moving field of technology,” she said. “His background in graphics has provided the department with new art on the patrol cars and an experienced guide through some technology conversions in our office.”

Police Chief James Deloach of South Bethany presented Lt. Troy Crowson to those assembled at the luncheon. He said, “Our department takes great pride in nominating Lt. Crowson. This March marks his 17th year with our department, and he continues to maintain a high level of dedication to our agency and the residents of the town.”

Deloach noted that in addition to his duties as police officer, Crowson assists the chief with various administrative duties and serves as police liaison for the South Bethany Homeowner’s Association and Neighborhood Watch.

Further, Deloach noted Crowson’s service to the department in a time of need. “Recently one of our officers left for another position, and we’ve been understaffed since May 2004. This has put an additional burden on our small department,” he said. “Lt. Crowson’s performance during this time has excelled, allowing our department to maintain its dedication to the community. We commend his continued professionalism.”

Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company (BBVFC) Chief Richard L. Parrett Jr. cited honoree Thomas Moore’s own extensive training and his efforts to help train the company’s other volunteers in presenting him as the outstanding firefighter for the year.

“Thomas has been a member of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company since 1995. Prior to joining Bethany, he was a member of the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company. Thomas currently holds the position of duty chief and runs the day-to-day operations of the fire company. He has over 500 hours of training from the Delaware State Fire School and has held numerous positions within the company,” Parrett noted. “Thomas volunteers countless hours at the station training other members and making sure things are in order for the next emergency call. He is a true asset to the company.”

Similarly, Roxana Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jeff Lynch, spoke of the experience of the company’s nominee for outstanding firefighter, Guy Hudson.

“Guy is an active firefighter and has been for 24 years. During that time, Guy has held many offices within the organization, including secretary, chief, assistant chief, deputy chief and board member,” Lynch said.

“Guy is also active with the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association, where he is a past president and former secretary. Guy is very active in the community. He is a great asset to our community and a friend of all who know him,” Lynch added.

Chamber officials also noted that Hudson is a Chamber member (through Gerone Hudson Electrical Contractor) and volunteers as a judge for Chamber surf-fishing tournaments.

Finally, Gary Taylor, town administrator for Selbyville, spoke on behalf of Police Chief W. Scott Collins, who was unable to attend the event. The Selbyville Police Department selected Cpl. Jason Burnett as its outstanding police officer for 2005, and Collins cited Burnett’s tireless dedication to his job, as well as his technological know-how, in making the nomination.

“I recommend Cpl. Burnett for outstanding officer for his tireless and relentless investigation efforts. He has gone above and beyond normal work hours, even coming in on days off, to clear several serious felony cases,” Collins wrote.

“Burnett also acts as our department’s Technology Officer, being called day and night to rectify computer-related emergencies,” Collins noted, to general laughter from the sympathetic technology-handicapped in attendance. “He also maintains and updates our computer network to a ‘well above average’ designation while performing his normal patrol duties.”

State Sen. George Bunting, Rep. Gerald Hocker and Fenwick Island Town Council Member Theo Brans were among those who gathered to honor the officers.

The honorees were praised for their willingness to sacrifice of themselves for the benefits of the community, to perform selfless actors for others and to put community members first.