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First responders honored by Exchange Club
First responders exchange club
From left, Pembroke Police Department Star Cpl. Norman Harvey; Richmond Hill Fire Department Capt. Jordan Johnson; Richmond Hill Police Department Officer Mike Mitchell; Pembroke Fire Department Firefighter Joseph Veitch; Pembroke FD Volunteer Firefighter Virginia Glover; Bryan County Emergency Services Firefighter/EMT Sarah Simon; Bryan County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Sydney Sapp and BCSO 911 Dispatcher Patrick Kenny. Photo by Jeff Whitten.

Richmond Hill Police Chief Mitch Shores said Wednesday anyone who questions how much it means to be honored by the Richmond Hill Exchange Club should pay him a visit because he’s got something to show them.

“I know I say this every year, but if you ever have time in the future, come swing by my office and you’ll see a lot of Exchange Club stuff in my office,” Shores said, noting he has a Savannah Exchange Club officer of the year plaque from 2005 in his office, along with a photo of him receiving that plaque. “I’ve also got photos of really good friends of mine who’ve won. The Exchange Club honor is just a really big deal for us and we want to thank you for it.”

Shores was one of several local public safety officials on hand at the Richmond Hill City Center for the Exchange Club’s annual lunch honoring the county’s top first responders for 2021. The Exchange Club has been handing out the awards regularly since 1985, according to members.

Those honored in 2021, in the order the awards were presented by Exchange Club President Jason Bryant and public safety officials.

Firefighter EMT Sarah Simon, Bryan County Emergency Services Firefighter/ EMS of the Year.

Her award was presented by Bryant along with Bryan County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Mike Dick, who said Simon, an Air Force veteran who recently married another firefighter, always “goes above and beyond.” He joked while she was in the Air Force she spent time in Antarctica – “for those of us around here who don’t understand what cold is – she lived it. And she’s very deserving. She’s a great employee, a great firefighter and an all around good person.”

Officer Mike Mitchell, Richmond Hill Police Department Officer of the Year:

 Shores said Mitchell has only been with RHPD for a little over a year and during that time Mitchell has been busy.

“He made over 60 something cases last year, and a number of them were felony cases,” Shores said, adding, “if you do anything wrong and you’re in a vehicle going through Richmond Hill, Mike’s probably going to get you. He puts a bunch of bad guys in jail and he’s probably going to get you.”

Sgt. Sydney Sapp, Bryan County Sheriff ’s Office Deputy of the Year.

Sheriff Mark Crowe said the longtime deputy who joined the force in 2012 has quietly done a good job over the years and was selected as BCSO’s top deputy by his peers.

Sapp “possesses and shows compassion and empathy to those he works with and always to those he comes in contact with, no matter the situation.

“And most importantly, he has integrity,” Crowe added. “He is never willing to sacrifice that integrity for any reason.”

Patrick Kenny, Bryan County Sheriff ’s Office 911 Dispatcher of the Year: 

Crowe said dispatchers like Kenny seldom get credit for the job they do. Kenny, who has been with BCSO since 2013,was also selected by his peers, Crowe said.

“He always keeps a good attitude in handling all the types of calls we receive,” Crowe said. “He is a good supervisor, a great dispatcher, an excellent teacher and he’s very patient. He’s an all-around good person who works very hard. Thank you, Patrick, for your hard work. It does not go unnoticed.”

Capt. Jordan Johnson, Richmond Hill Fire Department Firefighter of the Year: 

Richmond Hill Fire Chief Brendan Greene said Johnson, a third-generation firefighter, “eats, breathes and lives the fire service.” Greene said, while adding the seven-year RHFD veteran has had a hand in everything the department does, from helping acquire equipment to helping design the department’s new station off Belfast Keller Road near the new I-95 interchange. Johnson also has been “heavily involved,” in building a fire training center in the city and leads RHFD’s efforts to lower its ISO rating, which in 2017 helped the city drop from a 4 to a 3, saving residents some $3 million over three years.

That rating is expected to drop to a 2 after the next evaluation, Greene said.

“Our department and our community is truly fortunate he is a part of this department,” the chief added.

Firefighter Joseph Veitch, Pembroke Fire Department, Firefighter of the Year:

Pembroke Fire Chief Peter Waters said Veitch “is a career firefighter who goes above and beyond. He’s very dependable, you can call on him anytime, day or night, and he’s there.”

Firefighter Virginia Glover, PFD Volunteer Firefighter of the Year:

 Waters said Glover, who works full time with Bryan County Emergency Services, “is very dependable. Anything you need, you can call her and she’ll be there for you.” 

Star Cpl. Norman Harvey, Pembroke Police Department Officer of the Year

Pembroke Public Safety Director Bill Collins said Harvey came to Pembroke fully trained and entirely experienced after retiring from the Savannah Police Department.

“He’s a person who like a lot of officers is one of the most dependable people you could find, and he’s always wanting to do more than you ask,” Collins said. “He brings a lot of experience we don’t have the opportunity a lot of times to get, he didn’t come in to learn or get experience, he already had it and he brings a lot of great things to us. And he’s a most unselfish person. Anything I ask him to do, he’ll be there. He is always giving his department and his city maximum service.”

Like Shores, Greene, Crowe and others, Collins thanked the Exchange Club for recognizing his officers.

“A lot of time their story goes untold,” Collins said. “So thank you for taking the time to do this.”

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