By Thomas Sellers Jr.
A day of recognition began on a somber note in the dining area of the Glen Eagle Clubhouse.
As members of the Millington Fire Department, Shelby County Ambulance and Shelby County Fire Department gathered last Friday morning for the 2018 Smith/Lowry Firefighter Appreciation Breakfast, a moment of reflection was dedicated to the late State Representative Ron Lollar.
Lollar passed away this past July a few days shy of his 70th birthday. The longtime politician was a for those who served the public.
Millington City leaders like Mayor Terry Jones, City Manager Ed Haley, several aldermen, Police Chief Mark Dunbar and Fire Chief Gary Graves all gave respects to the support Lollar displayed to police and firefighters.
Greg Smith and the Lowry brothers Don, Bob and Tommy started the tradition of recognizing the Millington Police and Fire departments 12 years ago.
The MPD gets the spotlight every May from the Smith/Lowry foundation. Then when fall hits the calendar, the MFD has its turn to receive gratitude from the city, business leaders and community.
“We usually recognize a Firefighter of the Year at this,” Graves said. “This year we change it a little bit. This year we’ll recognize the Crew of the Year. It’s just a way for them to get together and say we recognize what you do on a day to day basis.”
The trio of Battalion Chief Allen Starnes and drivers Greg Gruthoff and Jim Liles won the 2018 Crew of the Year award for their rescue efforts during Hurricane Florence Relief in South Carolina. As part of EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact), Millington’s flood rescue resources were deployed along with the men to help save lives.
The trio from Millington even has one of their mission of rescuing on National TV. Graves said Starnes, Gruthoff and Liles made Millington proud and illustrated that the members of the MFD can help across the nation.
Another applaud-worthy moment at the breakfast was when Homer Skelton Ford’s Randy Hart announced his business will donate $2,000 toward training.
Graves said the donation, recognition and kind words from leaders like Jones and Haley means a lot to the men and women of the MFD.
“It means a lot for the community to reach out and say thanks for what you do,” he said. “We do have an important job to do. But it’s no more important than what all other city functions are. Some of the things they (firefighters) encounter on a day to day basis and be life threatening.
“They have to make some quick and snap decisions on a lot of things,” Graves concluded. “It’s just a way for them, me as the chief and the community to say we thank you for what you do.”
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