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Published 4/23/2004
Owens Community College Alumni Association Honors Local Safety Forces With Outstanding Service Award

Front Row (L to R) Edward Mack, Michael Wolever, Victor Ellis, Gregory Locher, Greg Tillman, Cheryl Hill and Antonio Castillo Sr. Back Row (L to R) Wayne Freshcorn, Aaron Otis, Eric Zgodzinski, Thomas Barnhizer, William Halsey, Andrew Dean and Donald Kenney Jr. Sixteen area police, fire and emergency medical professionals have been chosen to receive Inaugural Outstanding Service Awards by Owens Community College's Alumni Association for tremendous contributions to Northwest Ohio's surrounding communities. The first-ever recipients were honored as part of a recent community celebration.

Award winners were: Donald Kenney Jr., Edward Mack, Andrew Dean, Antonio Castillo Sr., Wayne Freshcorn, Michael Wolever, Gregory Locher, Thomas Jaksetic, Cheryl Hill, Victor Ellis, Greg Tillman, Gregg Sekela, William Halsey, Thomas Barnhizer, Aaron Otis and Eric Zgodzinski.

"Owens Community College's Alumni Association is proud to honor our brave police, fire and emergency medical professionals for their dedication to making our lives safer," said Janet Meacham, Owens President of the Alumni Association. "Our nation would not be experiencing freedom and safety as we know it without their selfless acts of public service."

The awards were presented within the categories of Police Officer, Firefighter and Leadership in Public Safety and Homeland Security. Selection criterion was based upon a nomination process with candidates demonstrating exceptional service related to dedication, ingenuity, bravery, special skills and/or assistance during a unique situation.

The co-recipients of the Police Officer Award were Donald Kenney Jr. of Toledo (Deputy Chief, Toledo Police Department) and Edward Mack of Toledo (Sergeant, Toledo Police/Records Bureau).

Kenney Jr. was nominated by police Lt. David Schmidt for going above and beyond, while off duty, and intervening in a violent attack and saving the life of another human being. During his 22 years of public service, Kenney Jr. has worked in various areas within the Toledo Police Department, including field operations, investigative services and internal affairs, among others. He earned an associate degree from Owens Community College and a bachelor's degree from Lourdes College. His accomplishments include receiving the Distinguished Service Medal and the Professional Service Award.

Mack has 10 years of public service and was nominated by police Capt. Jeff Hennessy for his diligence and professional response in apprehending a potentially violent criminal without injury to any citizens or police officers. His work experience includes previously working in field operations for the Toledo Police Department. A Command Officer of the Month recipient, Mack received an associate degree and a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo.

Individuals receiving Honorable Mention for the Police Officer Award were Andrew Dean of Holland (Patrolman, Maumee Police Division) and Antonio Castillo Sr. of Perrysburg (School Resource Officer, Oregon Police Division).

Wayne Freshcorn of Rudolph (Assistant Fire Chief, Jerry City Volunteer Fire Department) was named the Firefighter Award recipient. He was nominated by Jerry City Mayor Melinda Bolbach because of volunteerism efforts and the dedication he has always shown to others without demanding anything in return. A graduate of Bowling Green High School and Ashland University for Arson Investigation, Freshcorn has been involved in public service for 31 years. He previously served as Assistant Fire Chief for Portage Volunteer Fire Department and a Volunteer Firefighter for Milton Township Fire Department.

The Outstanding Leadership in Public Safety and Homeland Security Award was presented to several local safety forces that have played a significant role in Northwest Ohio's regional approach to Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Team is comprised of police, firefighters, Emergency Management Agency personnel and Toledo-Lucas County Health officials, and was nominated by Chief Michael Bell of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Division. Chief Bell, who also serves as one of the chairs for the Joint Regional Terrorism Task Force, recommended the team for their tireless hours to assuring the safety of this region, related terrorist activities. To date, the Homeland Security Team has secured more than $3 million in grants for emergency equipment.

Award recipients include: Gregg Sekela of Toledo (Lieutenant, Toledo Police/Special Operations Bureau), Michael Wolever of Toledo (Assistant Fire Chief, Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), Gregory Locher of Sylvania (Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), Thomas Jaksetic of Toledo (Captain, Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), Cheryl Hill of Toledo (Lieutenant, Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), Victor Ellis of Toledo (Lieutenant, Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), Greg Tillman of Toledo (Lieutenant, Toledo Fire and Rescue Operations), William Halsey of Toledo (Director, Lucas County EMA), Thomas Barnhizer of Whiteford, Michigan (Deputy Director, Lucas County EMA), Aaron Otis of Toledo (Regional Coordinator, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department), and Eric Zgodzinski of Port Clinton (Environment Health Supervisor, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department).

Since opening its doors in 1965, Owens Community College has provided higher education to more than 250,000 students. Owens' Alumni Association is committed to the personal and professional success of alumni and students through the ongoing development of value-added initiatives.

The College's Alumni Association is open to all graduates or students who have successfully completed any credit or non-credit course at Owens. New members have the opportunity to serve on the organization's Board of Directors or committees, utilize the Student Health and Activities Center, Common Computer labs, and Library services and attend a variety of social and networking events.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Northwest Ohio with 27 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area Campuses, Owens serves more than 44,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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