Graceham Volunteer Fire Company held their annual banquet on the evening of April 7, 2018, at the Graceham Fire Hall. President Louis Powell, Jr. welcomed everyone to the exciting evening, celebrating the volunteers. The pledge was led by the fire prevention ambassadors, and Lieutenant Julie Durgan gave the invocation. Members and friends enjoyed a catered meal from Bollinger’s Restaurant.
After the meal, the program was underway. President Powell presented the four fire prevention ambassadors with gifts for their hard work throughout the past year. Deputy Fire Chief and Director of Fire and Rescue Services Kevin Fox talked about the importance of the small community fire companies. He expressed his appreciation for the members at Graceham. “It’s important to rise up and make ourselves known. We’re running a lot of calls and saving a lot of money,” said Fox.
Kathy Afzali presented a citation from the Maryland General Assembly to President Powell. She expressed how great a company Graceham continues to be.
A special presentation was held by the family of Wayne Cook. On August 12, 2016, at 5:30 p.m., Graceham responded to a motorcycle accident. They helped in transporting Wayne Cook onto Trooper 3, where he was flown to Shock Trauma. Wayne’s family was told by doctors that if there would have been any delay in response time by Graceham or by the Trooper, Wayne would not be here today. “Good job, good work,” said Cook. The family, and Wayne Cook, himself, presented President Powell and the first responders from that day with a certificate of appreciation and a plaque of the fireman’s prayer to hang on the wall at the station.
Chief James Kilby gave his remarks, “We did very well in 2017.” Graceham was alerted 285 times in 2017, the company had an 89 percent response rate over the course of the year. Chief Kilby also expressed his pride that the company was debt-free.
Top 5 responders for 2017 were: Hilary Blake (142 calls), Josh Helman (86 calls), Tim Lott (84 calls), Lara Gosbee (46 calls), and Brian Boller. Chief Kilby presented Graceham’s top five responders with new uniforms, as a token of the company’s appreciation for their hard work during the past year.
Chief Kilby presented the Chief’s Award to Hilary Blake. She received a challenge coin, inscribed with the words: pride, commitment, and spirit. “Hilary is a go-getter, strong-willed, doesn’t give up, willing to help, and responds at all hours,” said Kilby.
A special Squirrel of the Year Award was presented to President Louis Powell for his dedication through the year. He was awarded a real squirrel’s tail from Val Kilby.
The President’s Award was given to lifetime member, Sterling Seiss. President Powell explained, “Sterling is well deserving of this award for his wisdom and leadership.”
President Powell also awarded the Hall of Fame inductee of the year to Brian Boller. Powell described Boller as “team focused and passionate about his position.”
As the program wound down, the annual memorial service was held. Vice President Gary Keller read the fireman’s prayer. Two previous chiefs were remembered this year: William Getz and Kenneth Simmers, Sr. In the fire department, when the company returns safely from a call, the bell at the fire hall is rung. Chief Kilby rang the fire hall bell twice in their honor.
Val Kilby presented a slide show titled, “Reflection of the Past.” It showcased the 2017 year at Graceham, highlighting their fundraisers, calls, fun times, and trainings throughout the year. Laughs could be heard during the whole slideshow.
Before the conclusion of the evening, LAMSFA Chaplin Jean Main installed the 2018 officers: Chief James Kilby; Assistant Chief Louis Powell, Jr.; Captain Valaria Kilby; Lieutenant Julie Durgan. Administrative officers: President Louis Powell, Jr.; Vice President Gary Keller; Secretary Julie Durgan; Assistant Secretary A. Kate Miller; Treasurer Sterling Seiss; Assistant Treasurer Brian Boller. Board of Directors: Valaria Kilby, Lara Gosbee, Joshua Helman, Brian Boller, Nancy Keller, and Sterling Seiss.
2017 Top Five Responders: (from left) Hilary Blake, Lara Gosbee, Brian Boller, Josh Helman, and Tim Lott.
2018 Line Officers: (from left) Lieutenant Julie Durgan, Captain Valaria Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Chief Jim Kilby.
2018 Administrative Officers and Board of Directors (from left): (seated, front row) Treasurer Sterling Seiss; (standing) Assistant Treasurer Brian Boller, Director Lara Gosbee, Assistant Secretary A. Kate Miller, Secretary Julie Durgan, Director Valaria Kilby, President Louis Powell Jr., Vice President Gary Keller, and Director Josh Helman.
Photos by Shelby Maly