W.R. Castle and Rockhouse Fire and Rescue held their annual Christmas Dinner and Awards Banquet at the Ramada Inn of Paintsville on Sunday, Dec.9.

W.R. Castle Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Burchett said the event, “allowed the departments to say thank you all the volunteers for their time and dedication to the community they serve.”

He continued, “It also gave us the opportunity to thank the families of the firefighters for allowing them to miss family-time to help serve their community for free.”

During the event, Johnson County Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie, along with County Commissioner Tim Salyer and Coroner J.R. Frisby, acknowledged the volunteer firemen for their service.

Children present during the event had the opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and each received a gift.

“The great thing is that we do a fundraiser every year at Apple Day selling waffle fries and Bob Evans sausage sandwiches to pay for (the event), so no taxpayers’ money is used,” Burchett said.

W.R. Castle Fire Department awarded Lt. Chris Horne at the banquet, naming him their 2019 Firefighter of the Year. Firefighter Ken Kirk was given an award for completing the most training. For completing the Most Runs in 2019, both Deputy Chief Brian Jeffiers and Assistant Chief Brian Phillips were awarded. The 2019 Chief’s Award was given to Assistant Chief Brian Phillips for his efforts in improving the department. Also acknowledged were Deputy Chief Jeffiers and Board President Paul Daniel for their work on special projects and grants.

Rockhouse Fire Department awarded Keith Fairchild for Most Hours of Training and the Most Runs in 2019. Larry Pack was given the award for the 2019 Firefighter of the Year.

Volunteer fireman Larry Hackworth was also honored during event for his many years of service. According to Chief John Thompson, Hackworth is retiring from roughly 19 years of firefighting.In an interview with Paintsville Herald Staff, Chief Thompson said, “there wouldn’t be a Rockhouse without Larry Hackworth. We owe him everything.”

Thompson also spoke highly of local volunteer firefighters in general.

“One person cannot be a fire department,” said Thompson. “It takes all the men. Actually, when we’re out on a scene of a fire or anything, you rarely hear us use anything on the radios other than each other’s names.

“There have been Thanksgiving dinners, Christmases, and Christmas parties that we’ve actually had to get up and leave (to respond to emergencies),” Thompson said.

A Special Chief’s Award was also given to Junior Firefighter Hunter Burchett. The award, given by Chief John Thompson (Rockhouse) and Chief Burchett (W.R. Castle), served to acknowledge the junior firefighters’ extra efforts on special projects.

For more information on those awarded or the services each fire department has offered their community, visit their respective Facebook pages.

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