December 7, 2021
W.Va. emergency leaders receive DHS Freedom Awards
Awards recognize excellence in emergency management
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice and his Department of Homeland Security are honoring the commitment of county emergency managers with West Virginia Freedom Awards.
Launched in 2020, the awards recognize emergency officials in six categories: lifesaving, innovation, teamwork, perseverance, leadership, and lifetime achievement.
“Through their dedication to service, these men and women are among the first to run to the fire," said Justice. “They have helped lead their county's response through the COVID-19 pandemic while responding to flooding and any other emergencies that arise."
Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy announced the awards during Tuesday's virtual meeting of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council. The 2021 honorees will be given the Freedom Pin, developed by Sandy in 2017.
“With this award, we seek to recognize the commitment of emergency managers who go above and beyond to keep our citizens safe," Sandy said. “The men and women who are called to emergency management spend countless hours preparing for natural and manmade disasters to protect our communities."
DHS coordinates with 55 county and three city emergency management agencies through the Emergency Management Division, overseen by Director G.E. McCabe.
“I am forever grateful to our emergency managers' commitment to service," said McCabe. “Their diligence to assuring the safety of our citizens and communities is made clear through action every day."
The 2021 honorees:
Lifesaving: Director Tim Farley, Mercer County Office of Emergency Management. Director Farley was the Mercer County Emergency Services Director from 2005 to the time of his death in January 2021. He worked tirelessly as an emergency manager and fire chief to help protect and save the lives of those in Mercer County and across the state.
Innovation: Director Michael Mayhorn, Boone County Emergency Management and 911. Beginning his career with Boone County in 2008 as a part-time 911 Telecommunicator, Director Mayhorn works constantly to develop innovative ways to better emergency management in Boone County and throughout the state.
Teamwork: Deputy Director Dick Myers, Jefferson County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. A native of Morgan County, Deputy Director Myers is always willing to travel to other counties to help in times of disaster and need.
He served as the Morgan County director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the last 7 years before accepting the position as deputy director of Jefferson County this month.
Perseverance: Director Richard Rose, Webster County Emergency Management and 911. Director Rose has shown great perseverance through many challenges in an area of the state that continues recovery from catastrophic disasters.
He has served as Director of Webster County Emergency Management and 911 since March 2006, and currently serves as captain for the Webster Springs Volunteer Fire Department.
Leadership: Director Lou Vargo, Wheeling–Ohio County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. With more than 30 years of experience in emergency management, Director Vargo has shown great leadership in emergency management in Ohio County and to surrounding counties, including those in nearby Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“I'm honored that the Governor and Homeland Security Secretary have recognized the tireless efforts of these dedicated county emergency managers," said Dean Meadows, President of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council. “So much of what they do on a daily basis goes unnoticed, so to see them recognized by our prestigious state leaders is a great tribute."