by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer, Grand Island Fire Co.
Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick administered the oath of office to newly elected Grand Island Fire Co. officers on Saturday, Jan. 8, at fire headquarters. Both firematic and administrative officers were sworn to uphold their future community protection duties.
Hardwick was joined by New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti, town officials, other special guests, and family members in praising the 24/7 emergency response commitment of these GIFC volunteers, who were described as representing some of the best in today's society.
As a special tribute to the traditional fire service family, Chief Kevin Koch was sworn in by his father, Ken Koch, who is a past chief of the Kenilworth Volunteer Fire Department. Kevin will be joined in office by Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, 1st Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, 2nd Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski; fire captains Ed Krecisz, Shawn Kephart and Omar Sortino; Fire Police Capt. Don Portik; emergency medical services captains Bob Cleveland and Jeremy Pullano; and staff aide Greg Butcher.
Second-term President Tammy Gorman will be assisted by Vice President Bret Lynch, Recording Secretary Laurie Berry, Line Secretary Phil Mastantuono, Financial Secretary Tony Mastantuono, Treasurer Dale Mock, and Sergeant at Arms Dave Khreis, who will also serve on the board of review. Norm Mrkall and Lou D'Orazio will continue as Benevolent Association trustees.
Steve Stouter was returned to another three-year term on the board of directors and Butcher begins his first term, after lengthy and distinguished service, as fire chief.
Ladies Auxiliary President Nicole Butcher introduced her 2011 officers as follows: Vice President Mary Becker, Secretary Julie Meyer, Treasurer Danielle Soluri, Sergeant at Arms Cathy Thomas, Chaplain Arlene Soluri, trustees Barb Wilson, Teddy Linenfelser and Arlene Soluri.
A special Chief's Award was presented to Rick Pelham for his exceptional 2010 service as a paramedic, which extended far beyond the call of duty. In addition, Jourdain Benoit was singled out as Rookie of the Year for his outstanding performance during 2010.
Mock received the 2010 President's Award for his individual initiative and dependability, which greatly exceeded required administrative duties.
"Top Ten" responders for 2010 were led by Ray Pauley with 765 total calls. Others in sequential order are: Rick Pelham, Greg Butcher, Dale Mock, Kevin Koch, Jourdain Benoit, Rob Soluri, Pete Coppola, Pete McMahon and Tony Mastantuono Jr.
In addition, new recruits (rookies) who completed an arduous 2010 training program are: Jeremiah Anderson, Benoit, Bob Cieri, Galen Dell, Keith Doyle, Scott McCormick and Edith Racz. Board Chairman Stouter noted that these new members have trained for events that they pray will never occur, and in so doing, have willingly joined a worldwide brotherhood of brave men and women volunteer firefighters.