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State honors Churches with lifetime award

    ODESSA—Members from both the Odessa and Montour Falls Fire Departments gathered with friends and family Thursday, Aug. 23, as Arthur Richard “Rick” Churches was awarded the Ray Sherburne Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Volunteer Fire Service.
    The award from the Central New York Firemen’s Association is given out to one person each year. Fellow Odessa volunteer firefighter Rebecca Franklin nominated Churches for his 44 years as a volunteer. In her letter to the fire association she wrote, “The members of the Odessa Fire Department feel that Rick fulfills the spirit of this award.” In addition to Churches’ plaque for the award, the Odessa Fire Department gets to display for one year the regional plaque which lists past recipients.
    “I’m very honored to accept this,” said Churches.
    Being a volunteer firefighter is in Churches’ blood. He followed in his father’s and his grandfather’s footsteps of volunteer firefighter service, who were both past chiefs of the Montour Falls department. His father was also a certified state fire instructor and Churches said he accompanied him to class as a teenager.
    “I couldn’t wait to be old enough to join,” said Churches.
    At the age of 18, Churches became a member of the Montour Falls Fire Department. However, after two years he joined the army for a tour of duty. In 1970 he moved to Odessa with his wife and joined that volunteer fire department. He was also active in the social side of the organization. He joined the hose team and the Schuyler County Firemen’s Bowling League in 1971.
    After accepting the Ray Sherburne award Churches said there were three instances he could think of that make being a volunteer firefighter all worth it. One he said was the Mecklenburg Fire Department attributed being able to save an infant to the training they received the week before. Churches added CPR saved a friend who suffered a heart attack.
    Lastly, Churches said he was invited to the graduation party of an 18-year-old who was going to college for a degree in fire science. He explained he helped save that same girl’s life in an accident when she was 11.
    “I think my father would be very proud of me,” said Churches.



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