Allison Rostad

If you’ve ever been a part of a volunteer fire company, you’ve probably already experienced a banquet that seems more like a family get together. For the members of Graceham Volunteer Fire Company, this is nothing short of the truth.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Graceham Volunteer Fire Company members gathered in their decorated engine bay, with apparatus neatly displayed out front, for their annual ceremony and awards banquet. Emcee of the evening, President Louis Powell Jr., welcomed guests and members for a meal provided by Mountain Gate, preceded by an opening invocation and blessing from Pastor Sue Koenig.

The awards program began shortly after 7:30 p.m., with a brief memorial service remembering the three members who passed away in the previous year.

“A bell symbolizes a start of the day for the fire department. It would symbolize a response, ringing the bell to call the firefighters in—on scene, on the apparatus, on the steamers; they would ring the bell that the incident was over and the fire fighters could go home. These three firefighters have gone to their heavenly home. As such, we will ring the bell in their honor,” Chip Jewell, director and chief of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, explained for the remembrance of Eugene “Sonny” Grimes, George “Junebug” Morningstar, and Anthony “Tony” Weddle.

Members took a moment to say a prayer for their lost loved ones, and a prayer for their safety in the coming year.

Chief James Kilby shared an overview of the previous year, announcing the company’s less than eight percent fail rate on answering their 230 calls for the year. “We did extremely well getting everything out.”

President Louis Powell Jr. then added to the list of company successes with the announcement of their first year being debt-free after the final vehicle payment on Engine Tanker 184.

A President’s Award was given to Brian Boller and Bill Morgan for their assistance in guiding Louis in his new role as president.

Julie Durgan received the Chief’s Award for her consistent efforts in keeping the apparatus up to standard.

Top Five Responders were: Hilary Blake (141 calls); Michelle Powell (113 calls); Josh Hillman (62 calls); Katie Miller (61 calls); and Eugene “Sonny” Grimes, who was represented by his wife and daughter to accept the award. Captain Valaria Kilby shared a slideshow entitled “Reflection of Past,” with images of members active on a call, at training sessions, and taking part in community events.

The banquet came to an end with a final installation of officers for the upcoming year by Gary Keller, Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Associations Board of Trustees member.

Administrative Officers for 2017: Louis Powell Jr.—President; Bill Morgan—Vice President; Hilary Blake—Secretary; Julie Durgan—Assistant Secretary; Sterling Seiss—Treasure; Brian Boller—Assistant Treasurer.

Board of Directors for 2017: Katie Miller, Brian Boller, Lara Gosbee, Hilary Blake, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers Sr., and Sterling Seiss.

Line Officers for 2017: Chief James Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., Captain Valaria Kilby, and Lieutenant Julie Durgan.

Pictured from left are: (back row): Bill Morgan, Brian Boller, Louis Powell, Hilary Blake, Julie Durgan, Katie Miller, Lara Gosbee; (front row) Kenneth “Doc” Simmers and Sterling Seiss.

Pictured from left are Michelle Powell, Brian Boller, Josh Hillman, Hilary Blake, and Katie Miller.

Pictured from left are Jim Kilby, Louis Powell, Val Kilby, and Julie Durgan.

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