Darke Co. Republican Women honor first responders


By Tammy Watts


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Republican Women’s Club (DCRWC) held its first meeting of the year on Feb. 14, at Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center. In keeping with Valentine’s Day, the theme for the evening was “Love Your First Responder.”

Local law enforcement, fire, and rescue personnel were treated to a home-cooked dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, salad, and green beans, before speaking about their career experience. The panel consisted of Darke County Sheriff Mark Whittaker, Greenville Township Rescue Assistant Chief Brian Phillips, Greenville Township Chief Administrative Officer Chris Norris, and Lieutenant Dirk Lewis of the Greenville City Fire Department. Club Treasurer and Darke County Clerk of Courts, Cindy Pike, started the discussion by thanking the panel for their service to the community, and inviting each of the men to share the reasons they chose careers as first responders. Pike finished by asking, “How can we better support you? How can we as citizens in Darke County help you do your job?”

Whittaker spoke about volunteering for Greenville Township Rescue immediately after high school. The first part of his career was spent in firefighting and EMS, including serving the city of Clearwater, Fla., before returning to Darke County. In 1995, he was made deputy, and has been with the sheriff’s office ever since.

“As far as helping us, get involved,” Whittaker stated. “I’m not talking about putting yourself into a dangerous situation, just make the call, get a description if you can; we’ll come check it out.” He stressed that citizens are the true “first responders,” and that information provided by a witness was crucial in apprehending a suspect, who led police on a pursuit out of New Madison last week.

Phillips was inspired by his father, who was an auxiliary firefighter, and his uncle, who served as an Ohio State Trooper. He began his career as a dispatcher in 1995. “I like serving the community,” he stated, “I can’t thank you enough for how much support we get.”

Norris, who has 28 years of EMS experience, said he “tried to retire” in 2008, only to return to Greenville Township in 2011. He became the Chief Administrative Officer in 2016.

Lewis has been with the City of Greenville for 21 years. “Help us by encouraging young folks to get involved. The lack of applicants is disheartening,” he said, adding that in the early 1990s, as many as 70 people would test for an opening. There are currently six corrections officers positions with Darke County that need to be filled, as well as three dispatchers.

DCRWC President Jamie LeVeck concluded the meeting by presenting the four men with certificates of appreciation, and Second Vice-President Delores Ely closed with a prayer for first responders.

Darke County Republican Women’s Club meets the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m., in the Shawnee Prairie Preserve Nature Center, 4267 State Route 503, Greenville, except January and August. Dinner reservations are required before noon on the Thursday preceding the meeting date. For reservations, call Wavelene Denniston at 937-547-6477. For more information, call President Jaime LeVeck at 937-670-0311.

Daily Advocate Reporter Tammy Watts can be reached at [email protected].

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