(L to R) Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department representatives Scott Spinks and Chris Hoxit, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller and Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith.
(L to R) Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Marble City Volunteer Fire Association volunteer Gina Buzzard, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller and Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith.
The Cherokee Nation gave nearly half a million dollars to 131 Oklahoma volunteer fire departments Monday night during the tribe’s annual Volunteer Firefighter Ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.
Each year, volunteer fire departments rely on fundraisers, membership dues and the help of good Samaritans to maintain their operations.
To honor them, Cherokee Nation provided each department with a check for $3,500, totaling $458,500, to help with equipment, fuel or other items needed to protect lives and properties of families in northeastern Oklahoma.
The funding is appropriated in the tribe’s budget each year.
Awards were also given out to fire departments and individual fire fighters.
Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department in Sequoyah County was recognized as a 2018 Volunteer Fire Department of the Year.
Firefighters at Brushy Mountain Volunteer Fire Department have spent the past year working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oklahoma Forestry Services, battling wildfires that charred nearly 4,000 acres of land in one month alone. Working with these agencies has presented the department with a number of learning opportunities.
“Our firefighters never give up and they work well with any agencies involved,” said Brushy Mountain Fire Chief Bobby Caughman. “They always watch out for each other. When we had a 500-acre fire, a 450-acre fire and a 3,000-acre fire in one month, they all showed up as soon as they could and they worked until the job was done.”
Gina Buzzard, of the Marble City Volunteer Fire Association, was one of five recipients of the 2018 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year awards. Buzzard was selected for her dedication and work ethic. Buzzard is a certified first responder and firefighter who has stepped up to serve her community. Last year during Thanksgiving, when many volunteer firefighters were out of state, the department received more than a dozen calls for help, and Buzzard responded to every call and worked the entire week.
“Every single day in communities throughout the Cherokee Nation, the men and women of volunteer fire departments are on call,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Volunteer firefighters are committed to the communities they serve, and they deserve the thanks and support of the Cherokee Nation. That’s why year after year the tribe invests in rural fire departments so they can be better equipped to protect our families, our homes and our property.”
KXMX News Staff
For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com