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Salisbury Rotary Club recognizes law enforcement, emergency responders

Each year the Salisbury Rotary Club recognizes law enforcement officers and emergency responders for their work and service to the community. Ten officers and responders were honored by the heads of their respective agencies during the club’s Tuesday meeting.
Those honored were:

• James Hewitt, Paramedic-EMT Rookie Officer of the Year, Rowan County Emergency Services
Hewitt worked in the textile industry prior to working in emergency services. It was after an accident on his job that required emergency personnel that Hewitt decided he needed to learn more life-saving skills. He eventually became an EMT and is now a paramedic.
• Renoda Burns, Paramedic-EMT Veteran Officer of the Year, Rowan County Emergency Services
Burns is a Lexington native and a single mother of three children. She wanted to become someone her children could look up to and began pursuing a degree in emergency medical science and training as a paramedic. She’s been a paramedic for six years.
“She always has a warm smile and a positive attitude,” said Rowan Emergency Management Services Director Frank Thomason. Thomason presented Hewitt and Burns with awards.
• Investigator Sara Benfield, Rookie Officer of the Year, Rowan County Sheriff’s Office
Benfield began her law enforcement career in 2003 as a county detention center officer. She has also worked as a patrol officer. She left the sheriff’s office and later returned as a part time secretary. Sheriff Kevin Auten described her as a team player and a hard worker.
• Deputy Patrick Jones, Veteran Officer of the Year, Rowan County Sheriff’s Office
Jones has been in law enforcement since 2007 where began his career with the Kannapolis Police Department. He works with the ACE Team, criminal enforcement and is a former Mother’s Against Drunk Driving officer. Jones’ father was also in law enforcement. Sheriff Kevin Auten presented Benfield and Jones with awards.
• Officer Wanda Gibson, Rookie Officer of the Year, Salisbury Police
Gibson has twice been named Rookie Officer of the Year. She spent her first few years in law enforcement as a patrol officer and these last two years she’s been working in the street crimes unit. Gibson is also a K-9 handler.
• Sgt. Bryant Willis, Veteran Officer of the Year, Salisbury Police.
Willis has been in law enforcement for 10 years. She spent time as a patrol officer and even worked alongside Police Chief Rory Collins. Willis was also named Officer of the Year during the Salisbury Optimist Club’s Respect for Law breakfast held last month. He supervises the street crimes division.
“He has an astonishing work ethic,” Collins said.
Collins presented Gibson and Willis with awards.
• Trooper Brad Marshall, Rookie Officer of the Year, N.C. Highway Patrol
“He’s one of my go-to guys,” said First Sgt. Frank Ferguson. Ferguson said Marshall has developed into a fine trooper.
• Trooper Brad Potts, Veteran Officer of the Year, N.C. Highway Patrol
Potts has been a trooper for more than 20 years and comes from a family of law enforcement officers. Ferguson said Potts was also someone he could count on. Ferguson presented both Marshall and Potts with awards.
• Firefighter Jeremy Cline, Rookie Firefighter of the Year, Salisbury Fire Department
Cline began as a part time firefighter in 2011 and moved to full time a year later. He is a certified firefighter, EMT, rescue technician and a fire instructor.
“He is a firefighter inside and out,” said Fire Chief Bob Parnell.
• Firefighter Chris Smith, Veteran Firefighter of the Year, Salisbury Fire Department
Smith has been in fire service for 20 years and currently works as interim captain at fire station No. 3. He is a certified EMT, hazardous materials technician and is an engineer who drives the fire trucks.
Fire Chief Bob Parnell presented the awards to Cline and Smith.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne.SalisburyPost.

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