By Dean Vaglia
Laeder Staff Writer
American Legion Walter Fraser Post 108 held its annual first responder appreciation event on Sunday, April 24, honoring local public safety officials and charity organizers.
Oxford Fire Department Lt. and EMS Coordinator Kevin Snell received the Firefighter of the Year award, according to statements from Oxford Township. Snell joined the department in 2006 and was promoted to his current position in 2021. Fire Chief Pete Scholz mentioned Snell has “great potential” in regards to leadership within the department in the future.
All members of the fire department received certificates of appreciation from the Legion.
“It was a really hard year for all of us and I just wanted to do my part to help make things better for all of us,” Snell said. “Thank you.”
The Oxford Village Police Department’s Gary Rouse and Richard Chauvin were awarded Police Officer and Reserve Police Officer of the Year, respectively. Police Chief Micheal Solwold praised Rouse, who joined the department in 2017, for his punctuality, reliability, flexibility and work performance.
“When a major case arises, Officer Rouse takes it on until it is complete even if he must come in early or stay late” Solwold said. “Officer Rouse is a dependable officer you can rely on to get the job done.”
Chauvin, who has worked with the department since 2014, was praised by Solwold for the number of tasks he performs on a volunteer basis.
“Recently he has taken upon himself to service and keep the patrol units clean for everyday use,” Solwold said. “Rick also took the task of getting WeatherTech mats installed in the patrol units, which were purchased by the reserve program.”
Other tasks Chauvin performs include taking police cars in for servicing and replacing the department’s garage remotes.
“Every spare minute he has to stop by the police department, he comes to my office and says ‘Hey what do you need?’” Solwold said.
Oxford resident Connie Miller, organizer of the free meals program currently housed at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ in the Village of Oxford, received the Americanism Award and a $500 donation from the Post 108 groups.
According to Post 108 Americanism Chairperson Sarah Eisenhardt, the program reflects the Legion’s value of “Americanism” due to it beginning at “the community level” and involves volunteers of “all ages.” The program started when COVID-19 first hit in 2020 and provides everyone who comes by with free-of-charge groceries and cooked meals, as well as providing jackets in the winter. The program operates out of Immanuel Congregational on Wednesday evenings.
“I cannot tell you how many times I have heard relief in the voice of a mother or father who has called in [for help] when I can at least direct them to a hot meal while they wait for answers about their other need,” Eisenhardt said.
People interested in donating food, time or money to the program can contact Miller at 248-933-4579.
By Dean Vaglia