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Published 4/22/2005

Owens Community College Alumni Association Honors Local Safety Forces With Outstanding Service Awards

Nine area police, fire and emergency medical professionals have been chosen to receive the second annual Outstanding Service Awards by Owens Community College's Alumni Association for tremendous contributions to Northwest Ohio's surrounding communities. The recipients were honored as part of a recent community celebration.

Award winners were: Jeffrey Molnar, Keith Loreno, Dennis Cummings, Robert Burd, James Walker, Louis Herman, Curtis Wright, Connie Brigle and Michael Fox.

"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, Service to Community and Emergency Response Team. 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.

Jeffrey Molnar of Toledo (Police Sergeant, Pemberville Police Department) was named the Outstanding Police Officer Award recipient. He was nominated by Pemberville Police Chief Robert Vespi Jr. for actions in which he went above and beyond the call of duty to respond outside of his jurisdiction and help a family in despair. A graduate of the Owens Community College Basic Police Officer Academy, Molnar has been involved in public service for six years. He previously served as a Police Officer for the Ohio Department of Mental Health. In 2004, he was honored for his exemplary efforts with the Exceptional Duty Award by the Northwood Police Department.

The co-recipients of the Outstanding Firefighter Award were Keith Loreno of Gibsonburg (Assistant State Fire Marshal, Ohio State Fire Marshal Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau) and Dennis Cummings of Van Wert (Assistant State Fire Marshal, Ohio State Fire Marshal Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau). Both Loreno and Cummings were nominated by Fostoria Fire Division Chief Russell Rife for truly showing professionalism, dedication and exceptional service to the state of Ohio and the city of Fostoria in their roles as fire investigators related to a rash of arson fires handled by the Ohio State Fire Marshal Office, Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau.

Loreno has 22 years of law enforcement and fire service. His experience includes previously working as Lieutenant for the Pleasant Valley Joint Fire District and Police Officer for the Perry Township Police District. He holds certification as a fire investigator with the International Association of Arson Investigators and a fire and explosion investigator with the National Association of Fire Investigators. Loreno earned a peace officer certificate from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

During his 30 years of public service, Cummings has worked as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT in Lawrence, Ind., and a Firefighter/EMT in Van Wert. He earned a peace officer certificate from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and holds extensive specialized training at the local, state and federal levels. In addition, his professional involvement includes serving as past President of the Ohio Chapter International Association of Arson Investigators.

Robert Burd of Forest (Trooper, Ohio State Highway Patrol - Findlay Post) was named the Outstanding Service to Community Award recipient. He was nominated by Post Commander Jon Cross for his demonstration of kindness, compassion and professionalism through various actions and deeds, both at work and in the community. A graduate of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy, Burd has 13 years of public service. His accomplishments include being named a four-time Findlay Post Trooper of the Year award recipient, as well as multiple certificates of recognition for life saving actions. Burd is active in many community outreach endeavors, including Drug and Alcohol Programs at Findlay, Hardin Northern, Ada and Upper Scioto high schools.

The Outstanding Emergency Response Team Award was presented to several local safety forces for their efforts in saving 15-month-old, Terrell Nickells who had fallen into an in-ground pool. The team was nominated by Edgerton Police Department Sergeant Daniel Griffin for their quick actions, exceptional teamwork and outstanding perseverance, which saved the life of Terrell Nickells.

In a letter nominating the local safety forces for an Outstanding Service Award, Ashley Gaskill, Terrell's mother, considered their efforts to be acts of true heroism. "If it wasn't for everyone reacting so fast, Terrell (Nickells) would not spend another holiday, birthday or any special occasion with me or with his family," she stated.

Award recipients include: James Walker of Edgerton (Police Chief, Edgerton Police Department), Louis Herman of Edgerton (EMT, Williams County), Curtis Wright of Edgerton (EMT, Williams County), Connie Brigle of Edon (EMS 4 Paramedic, Williams County) and Michael Fox of Stryker (Life Squad 1 Paramedic, Williams County).

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 one of the fastest-growing higher educational institutions in Ohio. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 45,000 credit and non-credit students, making it the number one choice for new 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, and 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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