Fire, Police Award Top Employees

Recipients of awards through the SHFAD are, from left, Mike Severns, Jon Lemar, Josh Bondesen, Travis Miner, Christian Whitfield and Bob Burger. Not pictured is Tommy Bernt. Photo courtesy of Janine Bondesen

The Sweet Home Police Department and Fire & Ambulance District held an awards banquet May 11 honoring those first responders who serve the community with dedication.

“We just honor our people and give out awards for all their hard work over the last year,” Police Chief Jason Ogden said about the private, annual event.

Through the SHPD, Chaplain Kevin Greene was honored as Volunteer of the Year.

“We really appreciate him,” Ogden said. “He comes in weekly and checks on us.”

Beyond that, Greene makes himself available to families when police are looking into death investigations, he said.

Ben Pinnegar was given the Marksmanship Award.

“He performs the best at our ranges throughout the year and was just a phenomenal shooter when it came to qualifications,” Ogden said.

Sean Potter earned both the Professional Development and Employee of the Year awards.

“The Professional Development was an award for the employee who really put in all kinds of training to make themselves better in the role they are serving in,” Ogden explained.

Recipients of awards through the SHPD during a special banquet May 11 are, from left, Rachel Warren, Ben Pinnegar, Sean Potter, Kevin Greene and Trevor Sundquist. Not pictured is Robert Snyder. Photo courtesy of Jason Ogden

To be named Employee of the Year, all members of the police department vote based on a variety of qualities, such as willingness to work in a team setting, encouraging others, having a positive attitude, volunteerism, efficiency, serving others outside the scope of an assigned responsibility, and overall performing well.

City Attorney Robert Snyder was presented a Dedication of Service Award for his 43 years of employment with the City of Sweet Home. Officer Trevor Sundquist, described by Ogden as a hard worker and “really good officer,” won Officer of the Year, as well as Top Performer for top statistics with his work record.

Rachel Warren was awarded Dispatcher of the Year.

“She’s been here awhile and is just always thinking about other people,” Ogden said.

In fact, he noted, Warren went to the Genealogical Society to make copies of old news clippings about the police department and used them to decorate for the banquet.

“It was absolutely amazing. She does this kind of stuff, she just goes above and beyond.”

From SHFAD, honored recipients were nominated and voted for by their peers.

Medic of the Year was awarded to Lt Firefighter/Paramedic Josh Bondesen. According to EMT/Firefighter Cassie Richey, it was said at the banquet that Bondesen is not only a great medic, but there’s often a sense of relief expressed by patients and families when he arrives at a scene because so many in the community know him.

Firefighter/Paramedic Jon Lemar was honored as Rescue Technician of the Year for being dedicated to training and learning new skills. Most recently he attended an academy to be involved in Search and Rescue.

Officer of the Year went to Lt. Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Severns.

“When presenting this award, Battalion Chief Randy Whitfield said that since Mike was promoted to Lieutenant he has excelled, taking on the many challenges that he has given him,” Richey said.

Firefighter/Paramedic Christian Whitfield was named Employee of the Year.

“It’s been about a year since Christian took over the position of Community Wildfire Risk Reduction Program Manager and since then has gone above and beyond what was asked of him,” Richey said. “He has developed this program into something that will benefit the district, community of Sweet Home and surrounding areas for years to come.”

Firefighter/EMT Thomas Bernt was named Rookie of the Year for showing an “enormous amount of drive and dedication” through training, working extra shifts, and always learning and improving.

Firefighter of the Year was awarded to Volunteer Firefighter Bob Burger. It was said he can always be counted on. The district stated, “You are always so relieved when you see him walk up on a call. He is knowledgeable, observant and a quiet leader.”

And finally, the Keith Gabriel Humanitarian Award was given to Travis Miner, of Pacific Power, for his service to keep SHFAD safe and often having the foresight to know when he will be needed.

“Whether that is responding at 2 a.m. to disconnect power to a house fire, or responding with us to wire down/pole fire calls in the blazing heat of summer or frigid cold of winter,” the district stated.