Six area residents were honored Thursday during the Noonday and Sunrise Optimists Clubs of Sedalia’s annual Respect for the Law banquet, held at the Best Western State Fair Inn.
Keynote speaker Jon Sarabia, with the 509th Security Services at Whiteman Air Force Base, first gave attendees an overview of the Security Services’ mission and duties on base.
“Unlike the Army or Marines, the Air Force doesn’t have an infantry,” Sarabia said. “We’re basically the infantry for our unit and our different groups have to work together, much like you have to work across city and county lines as a unit.”
After Sarabia’s speech, each honoree was introduced by their staff commander.
Officer Michael Elwood, Sedalia Police Department
“Elwood has been here almost three years and he is one of the most dedicated officers I’ve come across,” said SPD Chief John DeGonia. “In 2012 he made 400 arrests, conducted more than 750 traffic stops and went on 1,200 calls for service. In addition to that he’s had two big drug busts — one where 60 grams of meth was found and another where two pounds of marijuana was seized.”
DeGonia also noted Elwood has never received a complaint during his time on the force.
“I want to thank the Optimists for this honor,” Elwood said. “We have a department full of dedicated professionals and we like to stay busy. We’re tenacious and enjoy being active in the community. It may sound cheesy but I like to say that every call counts or no call counts from a homicide to a gas drive-off, each call is important.”
Deputy Scott DeHaven,
“Scott impressed me right from the start because he realizes that a sheriff’s deputy has to wear many hats,” said Sheriff Kevin Bond. “You could be doing anything from an arrest, serving a search warrant to an extradition or transport to another county.”
Bond credited DeHaven’s curiosity and “acting like a sponge” learning everything he could from senior deputies.
“I see him now acting as a great resource for our new guys coming in, teaching them how things are done,” he said. “I wish I could have four or five Scotts on the force.”
Cpl. Eric Keim,
Missouri State Highway Patrol, Zone 13
“Eric is dependable, he’s reliable and he never hesitates to do what’s asked of him,” said MSHP Sgt. Mark DeGraffenred. “We have a small zone and there are only six of us so it’s easy to butt heads and get in each other’s way but Eric has always been great at working together and getting along with everyone. We could use a few more troopers like Eric.”
Fire Truck Driver Kyle Rupe,
Sedalia Fire Department
“Whenever we have a new guy start at the department, I tell them ‘You need to watch Kyle and model yourself after him,’ ” said SFD Chief Mike Ditzfeld. “He started in 2004 in the City Maintenance Department and had to wait until he was 21 to apply to the Fire Department, so we’ve been able to watch him grow as an employee over the years. It’s a real pleasure to name him as our Firefighter of the Year.”
Firefighter Hoyt Ray,
“Hoyt is as dedicated to the department now as he was when he started with us,” said PCFD Cpt. Steve Zeiler. “He’s always watching out for the younger guys, teaching them. It’s a real honor to work with him.”
Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency
For the first year the Optimists decided to honor an employee or volunteer from the EMA. This year’s nominee was stormwatcher Lori Shuart, who, EMA Director Dave Clippert said, was the first to see the May 25, 2011 tornado that ripped through the southern half of town.
“When I came in to be the new director, Lori was the one to teach me about weather and what to watch for,” Clippert said. “And it’s because of her expertise that we had such great advance warning of that May tornado. Lori is always there, always willing to help out, no matter what time of day.”