The Western Albemarle Rescue Squad held its annual awards dinner Feb. 8 at King Family Vineyards and named John Flood the Member of the Year to a standing ovation from the crowd of roughly 150. Flood also took the Frances Henry Award, which goes to the person who ran the most calls during the year—in Flood’s case, 224.
“All volunteer, all the time,” as the squad’s motto says, WARS now has 124 volunteers and ran 1,985 calls in 2019, a 17.5 percent increase over 2018.
The traditional slide show review of the past year included hundreds of images showing training sessions, squad house antics, testimonials from people the squad helped, historical shots from volunteers in earlier days, and scenes at sports events they stood by at. “Can you take less than you give?” the show’s sound track asked.
Rookie of the Year went to Teryn Ratcliffe. “You have to put yourself out there [to win this,]” remarked WARS president Bill Wood in making the announcement.
The President’s Award went to Marian Lawson and the Chief’s Award went to Olivia Baumann, who was also credited with running a lot of calls. Life memberships that recognize years of service went to Justin Pickral, Lucian Mirra, James Salt and Matt Jablonski.
Squad chief Kostas Alibertis was subjected to some good-natured teasing—there was a bobble-head made of him and an image of him in a Superman suit—and then was recognized for his 20 years of service as chief. He started with squad in 1984, for a total of 36 years of volunteering. Also recognized for dedication were Bill Wood, 24 years; Greg Paquin, who started in 1999; and Bob Knox, 40 years, the longest serving, who started with WARS in 1980.
Alibertis was presented with a shadow box of mementoes to a huge round of applause and whistling. Albemarle Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston, a Crozet resident, praised Alibertis, saying, “I know how much he means to this service. He has a drive to serve this community and this county. We’ve worked on a ton of things together.” He also thanked Alibertis for his personal friendship and his support at the time Eggleston’s mother died.