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Press Release

Publish Date: 12/1/2016

RELEASE: 3rd Annual First Responders Appreciation Dinner A Success

Click Here To View Program (PDF)

Nominees honored, scholarship established for Canajoharie Fire Department’s James Homkey

FONDA — County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort hosted the 3rd annual First Responders Appreciation Dinner on Thursday evening at the Winner’s Circle, in Fonda. The event, which Ossenfort started in 2014, began as a way to say thank you to the county’s first responders. This event is a small way to say thank you to those who serve their community and risk danger to keep our community safe.

This year’s event honored six nominees from throughout Montgomery County, who were nominated by their respective Chief or Director, as individuals who consistently go above and beyond, putting service above self.

One of this year’s nominees is James “Jamie” Homkey, a firefighter with the Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department. Homkey was tragically killed on Oct. 10, as he was working as a tow truck operator, responding to a call on the New York State Thruway. On Thursday evening, his family accepted the award on his behalf. Ossenfort announced that a portion of the funding raised by this year’s event will go to establishing a scholarship in Homkey’s name.

“To be able to start a scholarship in Mr. Homkey’s name is something I’m incredibly happy we are able to do,” Ossenfort said. “While he was not in his role as a first responder on that fateful day, Jamie embodies every quality that makes for a great first responder. He exhibited great loyalty, dependability and a willingness to help his community.”

This tragedy has placed an emphasis on the critically important “Move Over” law. This law took effect in 2011, has been expanded twice, and now requires drivers to use care, slow down and safely move over when approaching law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, construction and maintenance vehicles stopped along the roadway. Last month, the state announced a week-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of this law and cracking down on offenders.

Here are the nominees who were honored:

  • John Bramer, Jr. (Rural Grove Volunteer Fire Department)
    • John has been a member of the Rural Grove Volunteer Fire Department for more than 35 years. He has held different positions in the department, currently serving as the Assistant Chief. John is viewed as a role model for younger firefighters in the department and is constantly offering experience, encouragement and support.
  • Philip “Curly” Brown (St. Johnsville Ambulance)
    • Curly is known throughout St. Johnsville as someone who is reliable and dependable. He has worked with the St. Johnsville Ambulance Corp for more than 15 years and has also served as a member of the St. Johnsville Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years.
  • Joseph Hanifin (GAVAC)
    • Joe joined the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps, in 2005. In his capacity as a paramedic, he has made a difference in many lives of county residents. Joe has also served the community as a member of the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department and as a volunteer EMT for Mid-County Ambulance. Joe has been recognized on several occasions with commendations for outstaying work, as well as received lifesaving awards.
  • James “Jamie” Homkey (Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department)
    • Jamie spent seven years as a member of the Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department. In that time, he received department awards and showed outstanding devotion and commitment. Jamie was heavily involved in department fundraisers and always took an active role to ensure that these events were a success.
  • Salvatore Megna (Amsterdam Police Department)
    • Detective Megna joined the Amsterdam Police Department in 2001, as part of the Zone Five Law Enforcement Academy. At the age of 20, he was the youngest appointed officer in APD’s history. Sal received a promotion to Detective, in 2015, and has consistently taken steps to solve difficult cases and resolve complaints.
  • Brian K. Muehleck (Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department)
    • Brian has served as a firefighter for the Fort Plain Volunteer Fire Department for more than 30 years. He has held many positions with the department, including Chief, and currently serves as Fire Assistant Chief. Brian has led many fundraising efforts and his impact has made a lasting effect on the department, thanks to his passion, dedication, knowledge, reliability and work ethic.

This year’s event was successful due, in part, to a great group of sponsors, which included AECOM, Pittsfield Communications, Alpin Haus, Lightspeed Technologies, Inc., Seely Conover, C.T. Male Associates, M.W. Roosevelt & Son, Inc., NBT Bank and Advanced Technologies.

“I’m happy this event has continued to grow over the past three years and that those in our first responder community have embraced the event with open arms,” Ossenfort said. “I believe we should thank these men and women often, as the job they perform protects us and often puts them at risk. Especially at this time of year, we owe it to our first responders to say thank you and recognize their efforts.”

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