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Women in Business group gives honors

Staff report

SALISBURY — Two leading emergency responders and a journalist were among those honored Monday as Outstanding Women Leaders by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business group.

Honored during a gathering at Honeybaked Ham were Deborah Horne, county fire marshal; Chris Kepley, a battalion chief in the Salisbury Fire Department; and Shavonne Walker, reporter for the Salisbury Post.

Frank Thomason, chief of emergency services for the county, said Horne was the first female fire marshal in North Carolina. People incorrectly think of first responders as a man’s job, Thomason said. Horne started out as a 911 telecommunicator and worked her way up to firefighter. Now she supervises fire investigators and inspectors for 29 county fire departments.

Horne then honored Kepley, the first and only female battalion chief in the Salisbury Fire Department. Kepley supervises 23 career firefighters as commanding and training officer. She also serves as chaplain and helps firefighters deal with the grief and stress their jobs can entail.  She has in the past served as the department’s public information officer.

Walker, who has worked at the Post for 12 years, often crosses paths with Kepley and Horne as she reports on fires. She also covers traffic accidents and other emergencies, as well as the town of East Spencer. Post Editor Elizabeth Cook shared Walker’s self-description from Twitter: “breaking news reporter by day, Pinterest junkie by night.”

All three were praised for their professionalism and compassion.

Cook was also briefly recognized for her role in the community.

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