As part of its annual contribution to support volunteer fire departments, the Cherokee Nation (CN) is distributing $476,000 to 136 northeast Oklahoma rural departments—$3,500 each—to help with equipment, fuel, or items needed to protect lives and properties of families throughout the CN reservation, reports cherokeephoenix.org.
The funding, which matches last year’s total, is set aside in the tribe’s annual budget and stems from motor vehicle sales tax.
CN also selected five recipients for the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year awards:
• Craig Moore, Whitehorn Cove Fire Department, for leading with dedication and performance after serving for more than 20 years as a volunteer before becoming assistant chief. Moore is also being recognized for his ability to quickly size up a fire scene and make the right decisions that allow the fire to be extinguished, cutting down on property damage.
• James O. Miller, Spavinaw Fire Department, for sacrificing personal time to help maintain the department. Capt. Miller spends hours training and makes it a point to go out of his way to help others. He works as a training coordinator, ensuring new firefighters receive proper guidance as they join the department.
• Michael Heinser, Spring Valley Fire Department, for his dedication, loyalty, productivity, professionalism and extraordinary actions as a volunteer and leader. Heinser responded to an early morning structure fire during below-freezing temperatures and never wavered in his assistance at the scene.
• Richard A. Naus, Gooseneck Bend Fire Protection District, for his commitment to community during the pandemic, when the department’s first-responder call rate more than doubled. Those who work alongside Naus applaud his having nearly double the response rate to calls compared to other firefighters.
• Leroy Weddle, Shady Grove Central High Volunteer Fire Department, for his willingness to serve his community and other communities in need. Weddle assisted the Webbers Falls Fire Department after its fire station burned by taking equipment and a fire truck to Webbers Falls to help protect the community.