Despite the impending blizzard, members of eight local law enforcement agencies and fire companies, and members of the public, gathered at the Bistro at Bear Trap Dunes on Friday, Feb. 5, for the 2010 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards, honoring those departments and the esteemed individuals that, through them, serve the local communities.
The event, named three years ago in remembrance of the late developer and philanthropist, recognizes servicemen and -women of area police departments and fire companies, and for the first time since its start in 2005, in 2010 commended one individual with a primary award. This year’s inaugural recipient of that award was the Selbyville Police Department’s Cpl. Michael Bruette, nominated by Selbyville Police Chief Scott Collins.
“This really is a feather in our cap,” said Collins. “It’s not only great for our department’s morale, but it’s really nice when you’re recognized by other companies. [Bruette] has done a lot for our department.”
Bruette, who has been with the Selbyville Police Department for five years, was honored to receive the award.
“I think it’s great to be recognized up here among everyone else,” he said. “We have a great group of guys with us and a great town in Selbyville. We have a very diverse community, and that’s what makes us unique.”
The Selbyville Police Department covers a large jurisdiction, including the heavily traveled Route 113 corridor, as well as three public schools. Currently, the department employs eight officers, with a new officer set to complete training at the state’s police academy in April.
“When you hear what these guys are doing,” said Collins, “a lot of people think not much is happening in these little towns. Then, you read about what these guys go through, and the amount of training required is amazing.”
The following officers and firefighters were recognized as honorees at the 2010 Valor Awards:
• Bethany Beach Fire Department – 2nd Asst. Fire Chief Shane Truitt;
• Millville Volunteer Fire Company – Firefighter Harold Lloyd;
• Roxana Volunteer Fire Company – Fire Chief Andrew Johnson;
• Bethany Beach Police Department – Lt. Richard Hayden;
• Fenwick Island Police Department – Cpl. Steve Majewski;
• Ocean View Police Department – Patrolman Sidney Ballentine;
• Selbyville Police Department – Cpl. Michael Bruette; and
• South Bethany Police Department – Lt. Troy Crowson.
Tom Halverstadt, senior vice president of the Carl M. Freeman Companies, returned as the event’s keynote speaker for 2010.
“It is an honor to share my time with you,” he said, addressing those in attendance, “and I express my high regards for what you do for us and represent our community. Each day, these individuals unselfishly step forward and take care of us in our time of need and, for that, we are very grateful.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper was the guest speaker for this year’s Valor Awards.
“We honor those who serve us,” Carper said, “and many of these people do so with humility. There are some who are uneasy being singled out for praise.” He noted the importance of recognizing these officers and firefighters, an act he said people oftentimes overlook. “Growing up,” he said, “my parents told me you can never say, ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’ often enough. These heroes are making our lives safer and better, and today, we all say, ‘Thank you.’”
Halverstadt also spoke on behalf of Michelle DiFebo Freeman – Joshua Freeman’s widow – who, due to the weather, was unable to be in attendance last Friday.
“This is really my favorite event,” he said, following the ceremony. “These are all fine individuals, and they all provide distinguished services within the community. There’s no higher calling than the service these people provide.”