The Cobb Chamber of Commerce is playing host to its 19th Public Safety Appreciation Breakfast at the Cobb Galleria Centre on Oct. 7 to help recognize first responders and 911 dispatchers in Cobb, in addition to members of the Georgia National Guard.
The breakfast will be the beginning of the Chamber’s annual week-long celebration of public safety personnel throughout Cobb.
Vince Dooley, former University of Georgia head coach and athletic director, is the guest speaker. The public is invited to attend the event. General admission is $60 and Chamber members can pay $40 at the door.
Preparations for the event began months ago with a nomination process for the Public Safety Employee of the Year Award, Medal of Valor, Award of Merit and Distinguished Achievement Award.
Winners will be chosen by members of the 2013 Public Safety Committee volunteers, which is chaired by Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger.
“Our public safety officials are out 24 hours a day and they are there for the community and although they don’t look for praise, they deserve it,” Westenberger said.
He began serving on the 46-member committee, which includes members of the business community and other public safety employees, five years ago after he was named chief.
Westenberger said the process to select award recipients began with nominations, which can be submitted by anyone from the public to police supervisors or EMS colleagues.
An 18-member Recognition Awards Review Sub-Committee was then tasked with going through the nomination letters to determine which individuals or groups deserve the four awards.
“We have a lot of them and obviously all of them are certainly well-deserved of any nomination, so the tough part is trying to pick out which awards,” Westenberger said.
The sub-committee is made of up police officers, firefighters, employees from each of Cobb’s public safety departments, in addition to the Cobb Chamber, Cobb Galleria, Northside Hospital, Cobb EMC and Cobb Judicial Circuit.
Lance LoRusso, like Westenberger, has served on the committee for about five years. His practice, LoRusso Law Firm P.C. is located near the intersection of Powers Ferry and Windy Hill roads, sponsors awards for the ceremony.
“It’s an opportunity to take a moment and thank the public safety community in Cobb for all that they do and let them know that we are taking time to recognize them so that they can soak that in,” the former Cobb Police officer said.
LoRusso also said this year the committee decided to include the Georgia National Guard, which serves about 15,000 men and women from the Air Force and Army, in their appreciation week.
52 nominated for four awards
This year, the Public Safety Committee received 47 nominations for the four separate awards.
Nominees include Acworth Police Cpl. Luke Reynolds, Smyrna Police Cpl. Darryl Nesbit, Cobb Fire Capt. Jon Redwine, Cobb Police Detective Ray Drew, Cobb Police Officer Grant Goforth, Cobb Police Detective Adam Payne, Cobb Police Officer Rachel Sneed, Cobb Sheriff’s Sgt. Charles Little, Cobb Galleria Centre Officer Nevin Hillegass, Cobb Galleria Centre Officer Byron Moss, Marietta Fire Lt. Pat Stewart, Marietta Police Officer John Glen, Marietta Police Officer Jason Gunkle, MetroAtlanta Ambulance EMT-Intermediate Kim Burnette, MetroAtlanta Ambulance Paramedic Phil Douglas, Puckett EMS FTO/Paramedic Josh Hopson and Southern Polytechnic State University Police Patrol Sgt. Brad Hogan.
The public safety units that were also nominated for awards are Cobb Sheriff’s Fugitive Unit, Kennesaw Police Morning Watch D Team, Marietta Fire Company 55 B-Shift, Puckett EMS Unit 340 and Smyrna Fire A Shift - Fire Medic 2.