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Workers honored at event

POSTED: December 5, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Fire Inspector Jody Holland, from left, with Assistant Chief Danny Speaks, Director Billy Thurmond and Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield, was named Dawson County Emergency Service’s Employee of the Year on Nov. 27.

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Dawson County Emergency Services recently named its top employees for 2012 and paid tribute to several pioneers whose contributions over the past three decades set the foundation for saving lives in Dawson County.

Fire Inspector Jody Holland, who also serves as fire and safety educator, was named Employee of the Year, while Lt. Ricky Rexroat was selected Officer of the Year.

Holland, a county native whose family lineage goes back several generations, said he was honored by the recognition and grateful for the trust department leadership has placed in him.

"I've been around such great people. [Lanier Swafford, Billy Thurmond, Tim Satterfield and Danny Speaks] are great leaders. I've learned so much from them," he said. "The pride and integrity that they come to work with every day is something to look up to."

Swafford said Holland's dedication to his profession, coupled with his willingness to take on additional roles and "go the extra mile," made him stand out.

"He delivers such a good level of service," Swafford said. "He has such a good demeanor about him. And in these times of shortfalls in budget, there's times we have vacancies that we can't fill, and ... I know who often gets called on, who always seems to step up, and that's Jody Holland.

"Night or day, day or night, he provides a great service to this county, and I'm proud to have him on board."

Rexroat is the first recipient of the Officer of the Year award, which was established this year to recognize the department's supervising officers.

"He has contributed greatly to this year's paramedic training class and was recognized twice this year for being employee of the month," Swafford said.

The Volunteer Firefighter of the Year honors went to Ethan Rhinehart and John Tarantini.

"In each setting, these gentlemen had gone above and beyond the call and reached out and done so much more than normal," Swafford said.

Also during the Nov. 27 banquet at Dawson County Middle School, several pioneers of emergency services in Dawson County received Lifetime Achievement awards.

Established in 2008, the honors recognize the vision, actions, dedication and sacrifices of those who contributed to the development of Dawson County Emergency Services.

"Without their efforts, without their contributions, the things we enjoy and the things we have in place, a lot of those wouldn't have been there, because we're reaping the benefits of the seeds they've sewn in the years that have passed on gone," Swafford said.

This year's recipients are Chillos Smith Sr., the late Charlie Pugh and Dwight Townley.

Active in the volunteer fire department when one station in downtown Dawsonville served the entire county, Smith and Pugh were two of the county's then six firefighters.

Later, both were involved in building what became Dawson County Fire Station 2.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Townley held many roles, from volunteer firefighter and EMT to fire chief and civil defense and EMS director posts.

"It was during his service as EMS director that through many gracious donations that Dawson County purchased its first Jaws of Life," Swafford said. "Through these efforts, vehicle extrication was forever changed in the county and countless lives have been saved."


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