On Tuesday, June 3, the Thomaston-Upson Rotary Club held their annual Public Safety Awards luncheon, which honors public safety officers in our community. Five awards were given out to employees of the Thomaston Police Department, Upson County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Thomaston Fire Department and Mid Georgia Ambulance with the honorees being selected by their supervisors.
Rotarian Tom Kretzmer welcomed everyone to luncheon and expressed the club’s appreciation to each of the departments present.
“We appreciate all you do,” said Kretzmer. “We know it is a difficult job. It is a job that stays with you and is in your blood. It’s hard to separate work and family, but I know it is a job that you will do successfully and the people who we are honoring today do that especially well.”
The first award given out was to Whit Lawrence of the Thomaston Police Department, who was introduced by Thomaston Police Chief Dan Greathouse. Greathouse stated it has been a privilege to have Lawrence as a member of the police force since March of 2013. Lawrence is a graduate of Flint River Academy and has a degree in Criminal Justice and graduated from mandate school in Columbus. He is also an Eagle Scout. Lawrence is the son of Deidra and Norman Lawrence of Thomaston.
Mario Cromer was selected as the Deputy of the Year for the Upson County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Dan Kilgore stated he does an outstanding job serving the community. Cromer has been with the USCO since 2006, where he began as a jail officer before being promoted to deputy and graduating from mandate school in 2010. Kilgore stated Cromer has a good way of performing his duties very effectively and efficiently and does it all without complaint. Cromer is a 2003 graduate of Upson-Lee High School and attended Fort Valley State. He is the son of Andy Cromer and Mary Hutchins. Cromer stated he is thankful to Sheriff Kilgore for hiring him and he tries to do his best on the job.
This year the Georgia State Patrol Post 26 honored someone who is not a uniformed officer, but is an integral part of the department. Post Commander Sgt First Class Lawrence Harrell spoke about Post Secretary Lindsey Smith, who has been with the GSP since 2005. She serves as the Post Secretary for both the GSP and the GSP Nighthawks Division. Sgt. Harrell praised Smith for her work ethic and for being the glue that holds everything together at Post 26. Smith is the first non-officer of the GSP to receive this award. She is married to GSP Trooper Daniel Smith.
Darrell Riggins of Mid Georgia Ambulance Service presented Joey Thiel with the Medic of the Year award. He told the crowd that Thiel is a compassionate, natural leader and he is proud to have him as both a friend and a co-worker. Thiel thanked the Rotary Club for hosting the luncheon, noting it is an honor to have been chosen by his peers for the recognition.
The final award given out was for Firefighter of the Year and it went to James T. Daniel of the Thomaston Fire Department. TFD Chief Eddie Lifsey stated that Daniel is the go to guy at the fire department and a strong motivator amongst the other firefighters. Daniel has been a firefighter at the TFD since 1987 and prior to that was a member of the National Guard. Chief Lifsey noted Daniel has effectively served his nation, state and community and stated it is a pleasure work alongside him. Daniel is married to Christy Daniel and they have four children.
Kretzmer closed out the ceremony reiterating how appreciative the club is of everything these departments do for the community.
“It is a small thing we can do for the people in the community who protect us,” said Kretzmer. “Hopefully, this builds morale in your units. We really appreciate all that you do.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1