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Riceboro pays tribute to firefighters
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County Commissioner Marion Stevens speaks to Riceboro city leaders and residents who turned out Saturday for Volunteer Firefighter Appreciation Day. - photo by Photo by Joe Parker, Jr.
The Riceboro community gathered Saturday to honor its volunteer firefighters — recognition which turns out to be surprisingly rare.
One of the speakers, Bishop E.L. Stevens, said he knew of no such appreciation event in his home of Darien, and others chimed in to say they had never heard of an occasion simply honoring firefighters.
Lelia Williams of Riceboro organized the Volunteer Firefighter Appreciation Day because, she said, firefighters are too often not thought about until there is a fire.
“We want to thank you and commend you before the fact,” she said to the assembled firefighters. Certificates of appreciation, plaques and other items were given to the firefighters, along with musical tributes and words of praise.
Williams, wife of Councilman Tommy Williams, was assisted by Mayor Pro Tempore Lelia Jones representing Mayor Greg Richardson who was out of town on municipal business.
County Commissioner Marion Stevens told the group, “You know I appreciate volunteer firemen — because I am one!”  Stevens said that when a community’s ISO rating goes from 9 to 4, homeowners save “a good amount of money in insurance premiums, and they should contribute some of that back to the firefighters who make it possible.”
State Rep. Al Williams said he had been in Washington, D.C., working and visiting his brother and sister there, when he made the difficult decision to return to Liberty County for the Riceboro event.
Reporting on the state budget negotiations, Williams said, “We got you some money. Not as much as we wanted, but we got some. And the well is not dry, we will go back again.”
Williams said firefighters should not be taken for granted and official and public appreciation was rare, but should be common.
Presentations were also made by Sheriff Don Martin and Riceboro City Councilmen Modibo Kadalie and Tommy Williams.
Other agencies turning out personnel and equipment to honor their Riceboro coworkers included the Bryan County, Midway and Eastern District fire departments, and Liberty County EMS.
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