Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department held its annual awards banquet Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Bay Country Moose Lodge 831 in Queenstown, recognizing members for their efforts and dedication over the past year. An impressive 21 members responded to more than 100 of the 620 calls the department ran in 2018 — with 10 of those responding to more than 200 calls.
Grasonville VFD President Matt Coursey welcomed everyone and introduced Auxiliary President Jena Anthony, who presented a check for $10,000 to the fire department.
Coursey thanked the Auxiliary. “They do a lot of work throughout the year,” he said. All members of the Auxiliary were given insulated cups imprinted with Grasonville VFD’s logo.
Grasonville Fire Chief Jeff Anthony presented the department’s year in review.
“2018 marked our 60th anniversary of 100 percent volunteer service to the citizens of Grasonville and surrounding communities,” he said. “Thanks to all 36 of our charter members who started this great firehouse. Thanks to the members past, present and future that continue to make us 100 percent volunteer.”
He said Grasonville VFD ran a combined 620 fire and EMS calls for the year; January was the busiest month with 74.
In February, the department received a donation from Fred Frederick in Easton toward the building fund. In March, they had two buses donated for use in drills.
“It was a good time to use our skills to get better,” Anthony said.
He called out Lt. Mark Meil with the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, mentioning their rivalry in kickball. “We let them win this time to even up the score. We;re looking forward to the next game,” Anthony said. “Kickball sounds simple. Let me tell you, it’s not.”
In June, the department participated in the parade in Ocean City as part of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Convention, and Engine Tanker 2 brought home trophies for Best Appearing Tanker Overall and a Judges Award.
“Aug. 16 was our 60th anniversary, and Aug. 18 we held a celebration that was well attended, where we honored two long-serving members — Past Chief Pete Risley (with 50 years of service) and Skippy Haddaway (with 40 years of service),” Anthony said. He noted the photo showing the presentation to Risley and Haddaway was shown on the cake at the back of the room.
In November, Grasonville VFD hosted a Man vs. Machine class for first responders throughout the county that provided “a wealth of knowledge to all that attended,” he said.
In December, the department experienced what Anthony called a “lowlight.”
On Dec. 4, Fire Boat 2 was damaged by a fire while on the boat lift at Mears Point. The boat was totaled, Anthony said, and the department will be ordering a replacement soon.
He credited Capt. Troy Tilghman with spearheading a project that provided Grasonville with a surplus Gator from the Department of Natural Resources Fopestry Service, which was rehabbed and put into service.
During the year, the department welcomed new members to its family: “Vincent and Nicole, Baby Cayden; Vinny and Courtney, Baby Ellie; and Keith and Jodie, Baby Kamden — with a K.”
Grasonville VFD also welcomed a new chaplain, Pastor Alex Newton, after the former chaplain, Pastor Jon Reddinger, moved away. Anthony and Coursey presented Newton with an official Grasonville VFD shirt and an insulated cup imprinted with the department’s logo.
Anthony thanked the Auxiliary for its support throughout the year. “They held numerous fundraisers to support our building fund,” he said.
He added it was another great year of fundraising for the department with numerous chicken barbecues, the annual bull and oyster roast, gold tournament and Christmas tree sales.
Years of service plaques went to Chris Bacorn, Alex Cole and Tracy Ferguson for five years; Keith Thomas for 25 years; Skippy Haddaway for 40 years; and Pet Risley for 50 years. Both Haddaway and Risley were absent.
The top EMS responders for the year were Troy Tilghman with 55 calls; Chris Bacorn, 36; Jennifer Landon, 19; Tracy Ferguson, 14; and Chris Fowler, 13.
Grasonville VFD recognized all 21 members who responded to more than 100 calls: Mike Balsoma, Skippy Haddaway, Steve McCombs, J.T. Clarke, Jason Anthony, Stephen Edney, Troy Tilghman, Marc Sartain, Kevin Bell, Chris Marvel, Alex Cole, Matt Coursey, Dave Bell, Pete Risley, Jimmy Tiernan, Wyatt Bossert, Nathan Westlake, Cory Holm, Keith Thomas, Jason Risley and Robbie Marsh.
The top fire responders for the year were: Mike Balsoma with 352 calls; Skippy Haddaway, 312; Steve McCombs, 301; J.T. Clarke, 290; and Jason Anthony, 269.
Chief Jason Anthony present special Medals of Honor to Matt Coursey, Jeff Anthony and Mike Anthony for their efforts in a November water rescue of an injured kayaker. They responded quickly, located the man, started medical and got him back to the Kent Narrows to waiting EMS units. The kayaker made a full recovery, Anthony said.
The Rookie of the Year award, voted on by the officers, went to Dave Bell. Often you think of a teen just starting in the fire department, Anthony said, but this year, they are honoring someone who returned to fire service after years away, brought his training up to date and is now an active member.
EMS Provider of the Year was a tie, and the award went to both Troy Tilghman and Nathan Westlake.
Firefighter of the Year, as voted by membership of the department, went to Mike Balsoma.
Anthony presented the Chief’s Award to 1st Assistant Chief Steve McCombs, who was called on for extra service when Anthony’s work schedule changed.
Coursey presented the President’s Award to Charlie Palmer. “No matter what you ask (of him), it’s done pretty much the next day,” he said.
Tilghman announced a new award: the Community Service Award, which will be presented to a business or individual who helps the department with replacing equipment or expanding service. The first Community Service Award went to Family Heating Service LLC, which sponsored a set of turnout gear.
The fire department presented certificates of appreciation to the Bay Country Moose Lodge, Grasonville VFW Post 7464, the Kent Island American Legion, Benedict A. Andrew Post 296, Queenstown Lions Club, Beach Harbor Campers Co-Op, Chesapeake Outdoors, Mears Point Marina, Kent Island Elks Lodge 2576, Queenstown Bank of Maryland, Queen Anne’s Department of Emergency Services, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police — Centreville Barracks and Aviation Division, Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, Kent Island Winery, Love Point Deli, The Jetty Dock Bar, Patriot Fire, Larry Scearce and True Value Kent Island.
Fran Jester installed the 2019 officers.
Administrative officers are President Matt Coursey, Vice President Charlie Palmer, Secretary Kierstin Nelson and Treasurer Phyllis Black.
Fire line officers are Chief Jason Anthony Sr., 1st Assistant Chief Steve McCombs, 2nd Assistant Chief Robbie Marsh, 1st Captain Jimmy Tiernan, 2nd Captain Troy Tilghman, 1st Lt. Keith Thomas, 2nd Lt. John Werkheiser, Chief Engineer Matt Coursey and EMS Coordinator Troy Tilghman.
Members of the Board of Directors for 2019 are Chris Marvel, Robbie Marsh, Andrew Sheahan and Devrine Jones.
Auxiliary officers are Chairperson Jena Anthony, Vice Chairperson Jessica Coursey, Secretary Betty Thomas and Treasurer Phyllis Black.
The meal was catered by Helen Todd Catering. Desserts were by Jena Anthony. Music was provided by DJ Chris Startt.