Chamber honors local heroes with awards

The Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce took time Friday Feb. 10 to honor police officers and firefighters for their heroic work and outstanding performance with local companies hosting the third annual Valor Awards, recently renamed the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards.

The ceremonial luncheon, held at Cripple Creek Country Club, was led by Tom Halverstadt, senior vice president of Carl M. Freeman Companies. Those honored, nominated by their peers and fellow officers, have displayed exceptional contributions to their company and community in the past year.

“Valor,” said Halverstadt, addressing the audience “isn’t something that’s earned. It’s something that is demonstrated. Service you bring to the community is, in and of itself, valorous. Valor is distinctive service, distinctive commitment beyond that which we expect.”

Among those honored were:

• Rick Parrett Jr., Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company;
• Douglas W. Scott, Millville Volunteer Fire Company;
• Troy Hall Jr., Roxana Volunteer Fire Company;
• Sgt. Richard L. Haden, Bethany Beach Police Department;
• Patrolman First Class Jason Bergman, Fenwick Island Police Department;
• Cpl. Kristen Miller, Ocean View Police Department;
• Patrolman First Class Michael Bruette, Selbyville Police Department; and
• Lt. Linda O’Malley, South Bethany Police Department.

“There’s true nobility in serving someone else,” said Michelle DiFebo Freeman, wife of the late Joshua M. Freeman. “The unsung heroes of society and service are those who do the hardest work for the least amount of money and recognition.”

“It’s great to be recognized so recently,” said Bruette, who was honored for his response to a robbery and apprehension of the suspect. “The police department has really taken care of me, and it’s really nice to be appreciated.”

“I feel very honored,” said Rick Parrett, Jr., who has contributed 10 years to the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company. “I work with a great group of guys and it’s a real privilege to be here.”

Michelle Freeman added that she couldn’t have been happier with the turnout of the ceremony. “Over the last six weeks,” she added, “The Chamber and the community have taken something very painful and made it very meaningful. Even though [Josh] wasn’t in public service, he lived a lot of his life serving others.”

“This ceremony is all about honoring great folks who serve the community,” said Havlerstadt. “They do a wonderful job, and here, we get a chance to say thanks. This event really embodies everything Josh [Freeman] stood for. The fact that they elected to name the awards after him is a great tribute and makes it that much more special to me.”