By Robin Gail Wooten
SPURGER – The Spurger Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) held its inaugural Fireman’s Banquet and Recognition Night last Sunday, Jan. 22.
With more than 70 people in attendance, including County Judge Milton Powers, who opened the event and gave the closing benediction.
Powers expressed his gratitude to all the men and women who give their time and talents to serve the Spurger Community.
Retired Chief Ellis Jones was honored for his 17 years of service as chief of the SVFD, along with another five years serving as a fireman. Jones said “I’m most pleased with the members of the SVFD always working as a team, a family, even in tough times we all remained united with one another”.
New SVFD Chief, Allen Benton, was honored for 40 years of service. Chief Benton responded to 42 fire calls out of a total of 64 calls in 2022. Benton stated, “I’m looking forward to 2023 to be another year to expand our knowledge, training, and equipment to be able to keep serving our community”. Chief Benton shared that in the beginning, “they were lucky if the department’s three trucks worked properly when they arrived at a fire, to now having a fleet of six trucks in great shape and fully equipped, including jaws of life”.
The new Assistant Chief, JC Wilson, was honored for his 35 years of service and received the Dedication of Service Award after responding to 54 calls in 2022. Wilson reminisced how the firefighters had to work on the trucks themselves to keep them running in the early days.
Henry Sawyer Jr. was honored for 40 years of service, and he recalled the old fire station located where the Spurger Beauty Shop is currently and the one truck in service had a peace sign painted on the back and had to be pulled to get it started. “I’ve been on the department all these years because I enjoy helping others,” Sawyer said.
Fireman of the year was awarded to Jacob McFarlin, graduate of Angelina Fire Academy and recently obtained his EMT Certification. Other members acknowledged for years of services were, Robert “Pete” Perkins for 35 years of service, Tony Ross, and Derrick Gray for 20 years of service.
Asst. Chief Wilson’s daughter, Kelly Jackson, is a six-year veteran of the fire department and the first female member until last year when Caitlin Richard joined the department. These two women organized the event to recognize all members for their dedication and support to the Spurger Community.